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The innovation addresses deforestation and plastic waste challenges as an opportunity to manufacture school desks from recycled plastic.



The Problem

With an introduction of free primary education in Kenya back in 2003, about 1.3 million students have been joining both primary and secondary schools every year, increasing the production of the tradition wooden desk and in turn leading to illegal logging and massive destruction of trees.

On average, 10 M square feet of forest is lost each year to build wooden desks for newly enrolled students, leading to soil erosion, decertification and water shortage.

On the other hand, about 10,000 metric tons of plastic waste is generated in Kenya daily. Nairobi alone, generates 2800 tones daily, 20% of which is thrown into the environment, blocking our drainages and encroaching our homes. There is a need to come up with a practical and sustainable model to solve these two environmental problems. That is why we came up with the manufacturing of plastic desks, made out of recycled plastic waste known as ECO-DAWATI.


We are designing and introducing a comfortable, low maintenance, durable, portable and Eco-friendly school desk made of recycled plastic and metal. The innovation of Eco-dawati school desk consists of giving a fresh and modern look to African classrooms, thus, promoting education in both rural and modern Kenya. Moreover, ECO-DAWATI converts plastic waste into useful products.

Category of the action

Reducing emissions from waste management

What actions do you propose?

-Set up waste collection teams around dump sites.

- Set up various plastic waste collection points within towns and highly populated residential areas.

- Carry out community education programs on how to manage plastic waste and proper ways of disposal.

-An existing partnership with a plastic manufacturing company to help with the technicality of collecting and sorting of plastic waste as well as manufacturing of the desk.

-Establish a quality control and marketing team to help attain higher market prices for the manufactured school desks.

-Set up various plastic recycling facilities to spread the model across Kenya.

Energy Utility and Choice of Product

As a startup, we will start with recycling plastic for school desks because of the current high demand of school desk. Moreover, this model tackles three very critical challenges in Kenya which are waste management, deforestation and poor learning conditions in both primary and secondary schools. Recycling plastic waste to manufacture school desks through injection molding has a far larger energy utility than, using the same plastic to manufacture other products like plastic post and roofing tiles which are manufactured through extrusion, which is prone to higher energy losses. In injection molding there is only minimal waste as the scrap can be recycled again. Despite being the oldest of the two methods, Injection uses less energy and results into less wastage due to recyclability of scraps. Currently, the plastics processing industry consumes around four percent of global energy. Therefore, any attempt to save energy consumed this industry will deliver significant advantages.

 Future Products

In future, we will incorporate additional construction materials such as road signage, fencing posts and lumber which can make ceilings and tables. All these products made from recycled plastic will help to curb deforestation in Kenya. Demand these products is currently so high since the construction industry in Kenya is growing rapidly and hence, rising timber prices and increasing the cutting of trees. The company will in future also manufacture playground equipment, garbage receptacles, feed troughs, shipping pallets, cattle enclosures and flowerpots.

Type of Plastic Recycled to Manufacture School Desks

There are over 50 different groups of plastics, with hundreds of different varieties. All these groups of plastic are classified into categories called resins and they are all recyclable. These include Polyvinyl chloride ( PVC) , Polyethylene terephthalate ( PET ),High-density polyethylene (HDPE ),Low density polyethylene ( LDPE ) , Polypropylene ( P P ) , Polystyrene and many others.

Eco-dawati is mainly interested in post-consumer PET i.e  Polyethylene terephthalate ( PET ) for recycling. However, the other category of plastics such as Low density polyethylene ( LDPE ), High-density polyethylene (HDPE) and Polypropylene ( P P ) will be utilized and undergo energy recovery in order to power our machinery that will be used in plastic recycling. We will engage CBOs mostly owned by youth and women primarily in waste collection, separation and sorting of these plastics.

Plastic Waste Filtering Method

Through manual sorting plastic waste material will be checked for conformity, this will pave way for initial waste sorting operation to identify defective parts, off cuts from industries, scraps, various polystyrene (PS), polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) products. This will be followed by chromatic separation of materials. Manual sorting of Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) will involve simple visual verification before sending the products to the subsequent recycling lines.

Who will take these actions?

Our business model is rather unique, we engage CBOs mostly owned by youth and women primarily in waste collection, separation and sorting ,hence, contributing to job creation among the involved communities. Once the plastic has been transported to the factory it is crushed, graded and then modeled into plastic desks. Our marketing team helps to deliver the finished product to the market through cooperates which have social responsibility programs, crowd funding through our website and social networks, marketing and distribution through school equipment and stationary distributors. Generally, Ecodawati's business model ensures positive impact to the environment and increased income to the CBOS. Moreover, engaging with cooperates and Ngos, crowd funding contributes to reduced cost of the end product to the end user.

Where will these actions be taken?

This business will be set up in Kenya, with its headquarters being Nairobi. There is a great  need to address both waste plastic menace as well as deforestation brought about by the high number of children joining both primary and secondary schools in Kenya. On average, 10 M square feet of forest is lost each year to build wooden desks for newly enrolled students, leading to soil erosion, decertification and water shortage. Kenya generates around  10,000 metric tons of plastic waste daily. Twenty percent of the plastic generated in Kenya comes from Nairobi, blocking drainage and encroaching homes. Therefore, there is a great need to establish a sustainable model in Kenya with with address the above named challenges.

What are other key benefits?

Social impact
- Jobs creation to the youth and women through CBOS who are involved in collection and sorting and hence generating sustainable income by selling  waste.
 - Promoting education through creating conducive education for learning, by providing comfortable and durable school desks.  

Environmental impact
-Reducing deforestation by offering alternatives school desks made out of recycled plastic replacing the traditional wooden desks.
-Reducing plastic waste from our environment  by recycling them into to marketable products  (Turning Trash to Treasure)
-Promoting the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from plastic waste disposal
- Community education on environment conservatory through awareness campaigns.




How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

The Ecodawati team performed an in-depth analysis of the business greenhouse reduction and the results were astounding. For every ton of plastic collected and recycled; the company avoids 1.4 tons of CO2 emissions. In other words, with the 1200 tons of plastic-waste collected and recycled in the next five years, 1,680 tons of CO2 emissions will be avoided.

The CO2 reductions are broken as follows.
- 1,260 tons of CO2 avoided because no virgin plastic was manufactured.
- 404 tons of CO2 avoided because of Edodawatis local recycling activities
- 16 tons of CO2 avoided because energy will be recovered from non-recyclables
- Taking into account recycling the total CO2 emissions avoided amount to 4.5 times the emissions produced during collecting, transporting, pre-treatment.

What are the proposal’s costs?

Some of the activities of Ecodawati will emit greenhouse gasses and thus having a negative impact on the climate. For instance, trucks collecting waste use fuel, electricity is used in the sorting centre, and the transport of desks to schools also uses fuel.

On the other hand, Ecodawati activities also avoid emissions. Infact, due to reintroduction into production and  the recycling of material  less new plastic will have to be manufactured. Since the manufacturing plastic from virgin resources requires more energy, and emits more greenhouse gasses than recycling. Recycling reduces the emission of greenhouse gasses than it generates.

Time line

Phase one 2016-2017

This phase will be the most paramount period in product development and market research. The initial program will include acquiring materials and equipment for plastic collection and recycling. We will acquire and outsource recycling equipment as well as services from plastic recycling experts. During this phase, data collection and market analysis will also take place. We will segment the market in order to undertake the most cost effective production process. Decisions on the best design for the plastic desks will also be made in order to accommodate the diverse needs of our target market. This phase will also see the introduction of the plastic desks to the first county in the country; we have chosen Kiambu County to pilot the project.


Phase two 2018-2030


This is the scaling up phase. After successful introduction of the plastic desks to the first county, this phase will involve expanding into other counties in Nairobi and its environs. During this year, job creation will be our key motive going forward. We are anticipating increased demand for the desks which indicates the need to collect more raw materials (plastic wastes). Over 400 jobs will be created targeting the youth and women in collection and sorting. This phase will also involve active lobbying and sensitization on the impact of the project on the environment. This will attract goodwill from strategic individuals and entities with potential for positive partnerships.

Phase three 2031-2050

The challenges addressed by our project are not unique to the country. It is a common problem across the African continent and other developing countries. In this phase, we will introduce the plastic desks to other countries beginning with East Africa. Having achieved large scale production phase, we will acquire multiple types of automated equipment technologies.

Related proposals

The project titledThe "Plastic" School: Plastic Waste Management with Fun!! (“ Plastic" school) could compliment our proposal by providing raw materials to be used in manufacturing of school desks. Since we are establishing collection Centre within Nairobi city and plastic schools could come in handy to complement our waste collection strategies. However, we will engage youth and women for the plastic collection sorting and cleaning as a way to provide employment to the local community.


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