At the age of 15, Edgar Edmund saw how a downpour swept away mud houses, mainly belonging to the poor in villages in Tanzania. People in his community in the city of Dar Es Salaam could not afford to build with cement because of the cost.
“Tanzania is a developing country, hence most of the people here are low–income earners,” Edmund told Sitra. “There is a high demand for affordable products which could at least enable many people to own their own houses regardless of their low incomes.”
Edmund was motivated to undertake a series of research on how to find affordable yet durable building materials to help his community build durable structures that can withstand a downpour. His research led him to explore turning plastic wastes into building materials.
More about this
This led him to found Green Venture Recycles to develop cheap and affordable building materials—such as bricks and blocks—using plastic waste. He developed a prototype of his building materials collecting plastic waste from the city’s streets for his first trials.
Besides turning plastic waste into building materials, he also had it as part of his mission to combat environmental pollution mainly resulting from plastic waste.
His career path was not one his dad approved. In typical African societies, parents have a strong say in the career path of their children. His father eventually supported him after seeing the potential in what Edmund was doing.
“I think the progress that we have made as Green Venture and all the awards and recognition that we have obtained, has changed my dad’s perspective on waste management and my recycling business,” said Edmund, according to anzishaprize.org. “He can now see the potential around working on sustainability, and I think this view has also been on the general public as now people around me are being more aware of sustainability.”
So far, Edmund has recycled over 1.2 million plastic waste into smart, affordable and sustainable construction products such as roof tiles and building blocks. Also, he has employed over 90 people and trained more than 4000 students in environmental campaigns at schools around Arusha, Tanzania.
In 2017 when he was 17 years old, Edmund was named winner of the Children’s Climate Prize 2017. “Edgar’s innovations are brilliant and good example on how to combine climate responsibility while at the same time contributing to a positive development, for his own part as for society at large,” Johan Kuylenstierna, chairman of the Children’s Climate Prize jury, said.
Edmund was also a recipient of the Investment Readiness Award at the Anzisha Prize’s Challenge Prize Awards in Johannesburg, South Africa. The award, which was to recognize his significant effort to improve his business, saw him receive $50,000 as an investment fund.
He has also won other awards such as the Anzisha Prize 2017, for Africa’s young entrepreneur, and the Global Financial Inclusion Award 2018, and was a speaker at the One Young World summit in 2018.
Here’s how Edmund is recycling plastic waste using a machine he designed himself.