Mondi awards $50,000 to a start-up which turns plastic waste into roof tiles

Hope Mwanake

A Kenyan company which turns plastic waste into affordable roof tiles for homes has been given a financial boost by FTSE 100 packaging and paper company, Mondi Group.

Eco Blocks and Tiles has been selected by Mondi as the Lead2030 SDG 12 challenge winner and will receive $50,000 in financial investment, plus 12 months of business coaching, to equip the company with the expertise to grow.

Lead2030 was launched by One Young World, the global forum for young leaders, in November 2018 to support youth-led innovation to contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Powered by some of the world’s leading businesses, Lead2030 aims to find, fund and accelerate youth-led solutions for each of the global goals and enable young innovators to scale and accelerate their impact.

Eco Blocks and Tiles mixes plastic waste with sand to make affordable, durable and eco-friendly roofing tiles in Kenya. In 2018, its first operational year, the company sold 50,000 roofing tiles and recycled approximately 50 tonnes of plastic waste. With the funding from Mondi, the company has the potential to increase output by up to 20 times.

Eco Blocks & Tiles predicts it will be recycling 1,200 tonnes of plastic waste annually by 2024 – the equivalent of 250 African elephants. The business has the potential to play an important role in tackling plastic waste and plans to use the financial investment and guidance from Mondi to scale and inform its long-term strategy as well as provide more secure jobs for local plastic pickers.

This investment will also allow Eco Blocks and Tiles to purchase new machinery to increase production. It will also fund marketing, advertising and exhibition costs, in addition to training 100 new roof masons.

Peter Oswald, CEO of Mondi, said:“Achieving a sustainable future depends on wholescale system change – driven by innovative solutions, business models and partnerships. By connecting entrepreneurial young people with leading global companies, the Lead2030 initiative creates an opportunity to address some of the world’s greatest challenges. The Eco Blocks and Tiles initiative, submitted by Hope Wakio Mwanake from Kenya, has real potential to reduce plastic waste and meet the demand for better quality housing in Africa through its eco-friendly roofing tiles made from recycled plastic and sand. At Mondi, we believe collaboration is key in achieving the SDGs and we are confident that Eco Blocks and Tiles is a great example of how scaling great ideas creates maximum positive impact.”

Hope Wakio Mwanake, co-founder of Eco Blocks and Tiles, said: “I was born and raised in a poor- neighbourhood in Kenya and the local fields where we once played are now littered with plastic waste. I am determined to help change this by training and investing in local employees, offering a more sustainable solution to plastic pollution. Our company helps local plastic pickers earn a salary, tackles plastic waste and lowers the cost of housing. I am really excited that Eco Blocks and Tiles has been selected as a Lead2030 winner by Mondi. We are looking forward to learning from them and are sure it will help accelerate our growth.”

Hope Wakio Mwanke and Kevin Mureithi co-founded Eco Blocks and Tiles in 2018. The business positively contributes to SDG12 ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’ by creating value out of plastic waste.