CMR MSc student Matimba pilots plastic waste to construction resources

22 Jun 2022
22 Jun 2022

UCT BSc Eng graduate and MSc Student Matimba Mabonda tells about his LolaGreen initiative:

The argument over the years has been circulating around looking for alternative replacements for plastics, or the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle). Some further argue that the most effective way to reduce plastic pollution is to not make them in the first place. Reality check appears otherwise. In short, there is no one way to deal with this problem, it's practically a 'wicked problem'. Collaborations of different stakeholders seem to be a better approach I think. We can sit and talk all we want, but action is what's needed. To put things into perspective, imagine that a garbage truck full of plastics is dumped into the ocean every minute. I think that's painful to know. A huge blow to our ecosystems. The obvious effects of plastic waste are the contributions to greenhouse gas emissions, ultimately impacting climate change.

In South Africa alone the minimum plastic waste generated per capita is 41 kg per annum vs 29 kg globally. Reports also indicate that the minimum lifetime cost to our country of the plastic produced in 2019 is R885 billion, including damage to fishing and tourism industries, clean-up costs as well as health threats to humans and wildlife.

LolaGreen exists to solve the plastic waste problem with a collaborative approach. We are piloting roof tiles and bricks at the moment from waste plastics- light in weight, durable and affordable by virtue of using waste material. Thankful to the design thinking principles from the UCT Pitch competition workshop, we keep iterating our solution offering to the plastic waste problem based on users' feedback. We have now advanced to the semi-finals of the competition which is very encouraging for us for a business concept that started from brainstorming sessions.

We plan on making a demonstration with campus plastic waste to resources through the Khusela Ikamva project launched by the office of the VC. We hope this will ignite sensitivity in the campus community regarding unacceptable methods of plastic waste disposal, which eventually find its way into the oceans and destroy aquatic life.

Our medium-term goal is to acquire machinery that would see us mass producing our products, hence the participation in competitions. There is also a whole lot that we are learning as we interact with other entrepreneurs- the fine-tuning of business models.