- One of the fastest growing tech companies, EcoAct Tanzania makes good use of plastic trash by turning them into useful timber
Have you ever wondered where plastics such as bottles and buckets go after they are no longer of use?
Well, you will be surprised to know that a good number of people from different fields are making good use of these same plastics that we dispose of.
EcoAct Tanzania, is among those who are using innovative ways to recycle plastic waste while saving the environment at the same time.
Media Convergency in partnership with Habari HubTZ had a one on one conversation with the aspiring tech-preneur who is also the founder of EcoAct Tanzania, Mr Christian Mwijage, whose initiative is to transform plastic garbage to plastic timber.
EcoAct, one of the fast growing tech-companies in Tanzania uses a chemical-free and energy-conserving plastic extrusion technology called “Waxy ii Technology.”
This innovative process applies the recycling and transforming post-consumer plastic garbage into plastic timber. The initiative was established with the aim of addressing challenges of post-consumer plastic pollution, waste management, climate change and deforestation. The EcoAct factory is located in Tegeta, Dar es Salaam.
The person behind EcoAct Tanzania
An award winner in Social innovation 2019, Christian Mwijage and the executive director of EcoAct-Tanzania tell us the story of how the idea came about.
Christian says at first just like any other individual in search for earnings to make a living, he too wanted to work and get paid. He looked at life from a personal vantage point but when he was employed his perspective about life took a shift and a thought of wanting to do something for the people – his society, was born. With a plan in mind, he used what he had at the time to start his business, “I believe in starting with what you have and so I did,” he shares.
Making plastic waste useful
With over a million use of plastics each year going to waste EcoAct provides a solution to make use of these plastics constructively to the needs of its customers.
The company has been operational for over three years whilst ensuring the withdrawal of over 2.5 million kilogrammes of post-consumer waste plastics from the environment and use of manufacture plastic lumbers. This has saved an estimated 250 acres of forest that would have been cut. The mission of EcoAct-Tanzania is to employ innovative solutions that save the environment from pollution, deforestation and climate change while creating sustainable jobs by manufacturing and selling eco-friendly quality building products that exceed the expectations of customers.
EcoAct-Tanzania centers on designing, manufacturing and direct selling of building materials (Plastic materials) made from 100 per cent plastic garbage to real estate developers, adverting agencies, domestic home developers, wild life conservation agencies, farmers, telecommunication infrastructure contractors, road contractors and government institutions. They have currently secured 1067 customers where 90 per cent of its customers are in Tanzania, 7 per cent in Kenya and 3 per cent in Congo.
They also have a program on how they collect this plastic garbage and in return live a positive impact to the lives of the collectors. There is a quote that says, “When you create a difference in someone’s life, you not only impact their life, you impact everyone influenced by them throughout the entire lifetime.”
No act is ever small and Mwijage lives by example. The locals are employed in sourcing and production of products, they also provide training opportunities and skills for vulnerable women and youth by educating the public on recycling practices. EcoAct has gone further and beyond in the way they operate by launching a “Garbage Medical Insurance.” which is a micro health insurance program that uses garbage as a financial resource. Through the program local families and people living in the slums are able to register for the garbage medical insurance and pay for medical treatment, medicines and other clinical services using garbage as payment to an insurance scheme.
The plastic timbers are sold directly to their customers through the sales team or indirectly through appointed hardware shops, building expo exhibitions and stockiest.
EcoAct’s target customer
When one opens a business he/she should not expect customers to just show up with no major marketing efforts to apply. Any business requires a target market research and understanding the needs, perspectives of the customers you intend to target. A target market research is not a onetime thing, it continues even when you are already running your business because with customers there is always something new to add and learn from so as to better your services according to their needs.
Know the people you are targeting, the kind of product they need, and why they need such product and how will they get it, which is the strategy used to ensure the product reaches your customers.
EcoAct targets adverting agencies, domestic home developers, real estate developers, wild life conservation agencies, road constructors, farmers, telecommunication infrastructure contractors and government institutions. They sell plastic timbers directly to customers through their sales team and indirectly through building expo exhibitions and selected hardware shops.
When addressing the vision of EcoAct, Mwijage had this to say, “We are looking into the construction industry and thinking in the next three years the usage of plastic materials will reduce the cost of construction by 50 per cent. I look forward to a day where we can be able to construct a whole structured house using plastic garbage as a resource. This will enable Tanzanian youth to be able to own their own houses.”
He added by saying, “we are working with poor families, we have been in the slums and we have seen how their houses look like and I often think how can we help these people own their own houses? They do not have the money but they have garbage and we love garbage, that’s money.”
Asked what he could have done differently, Mwijage admits he has failed twice before on this same initiative. “I missed a spot,” Mwijage says. “What I learnt is that I did not have a mentor or a strong team that had the same vision as I did, now I know better.”
EcoAct Tanzania shares further online discussions in a video interview format. You can access the online conversation across all Media Convergency social media platforms using the hash tag of #ImpactTechTZ