Turning plastic into fuel and income

Turning plastic into fuel and income

- Zimbabwe

Widows gain jobs that benefit the environment and community

In the Zimbabwean community of Senga Nehosho, residents often burn or bury trash, especially plastics, as a way of disposing it. Years of these practices have led to adverse effects on the local environment and ongoing problems with blocked drain and sewage systems. Seeking to change unsafe waste disposal as well as raise the quality of life for locals, the Midlands State University Enactus team investigated waste management alternatives and uses for discarded plastic.

Seeing Opportunity

The team learned that it was possible to recycle and transform plastics into a liquid similar to paraffin that could be used as fuel, floor polish or candle wax. More specifically, the team’s research determined they could effectively convert 60 kgs of waste into 60 liters of diesel fuel. By developing the technology and processes to convert plastic waste to energy or new products, the team saw that in one effort they could help this struggling community create jobs, all while diminishing harmful emissions for better overall environmental and residential health.

Taking Action

To accomplish this goal, the team developed a machine they dubbed the Gre-Cycler that melts all types of recyclable plastic to create economically viable products. To get the most impact from this effort, Midlands State University Enactus worked with several widows, who without their husband’s income were struggling to make ends meet, to implement the new technology and recycling venture. The women were trained on the machine and paired with five retail outlets that agreed to provide plastic waste for initial production. To further ensure success, they provided these women classes on business skills and financial management.

Enabling Progress

Thanks to the “Gre-Cycling” project, 12 disadvantaged women now have sustainable incomes transforming plastic waste. Before the effort, most of these women could not afford three meals a day or basic education for their children. After six months recycling, they had earned $2,304 from the sale of the new fuel and products. Just as important, the approximately 600 residents of Senga Nehosho now have a means of managing their trash, which benefits their land, health and local economy. Due to its success, the team is looking to expand the project to include additional waste such as paper and cans.

Project Facts

One liquid fuel product

Sustainable income for 12 disadvantaged women

Better quality of life for 600 local residents

  • Shiraz Datoo

    Very inspiring. How can we export the skills and technology to other countries and help vulnerable women fight poverty, abuse and exploitation?
    Thank you.
    Shiraz Datoo

  • Richard W England

    Great story ! I really am.impressed by this Organzation !!

  • Lowell Nash

    Could they turn to production and sell the machine and expand globally- implementing the same process they created in Senga Nehosho over several continents, in developing communities that have a non existent waste-management scheme?

  • ENACTUS University of Ghana

    We are Team Enactus University of Ghana. We congratulate your team for successfully executing such a project. Being so impressed by its results and impact, we would like to implement a similar project here in Ghana and extend your exploits to the West African sub-region. In this regard, we would humbly ask that you contact us on our official email address, enactusug@gmail.com or contact our vice president, Albert Nimfah, +233278369057.
    We hope to receive your response soon. Enactus….In Action.