Hope Mwanake, co-founder of Eco Blocks and Tiles poses for a photo at her factory in Gilgil, Kenya on Dec 4, 2019. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Nita Bhalla
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Hope Mwanake understands the plastic pollution crisis facing Kenya better than most.It is the first company in Kenya to manufacture roof tiles and other construction materials from plastic and glass waste. The tiles are more durable, lighter and easier to transport and install than concrete or clay tiles. A million plastic drinks bottles are bought every minute globally, while some 500 billion disposable plastic bags are used every year, says the United Nations.With Kenya producing more than 3 million tons of waste -- of which only 8% is recycled, scientists-turned-entrepreneurs Mwanake and Mureithi felt something had to be done.An average three-bed house requires 1,000 to 2,000 tiles. The company employs four permanent staff and supports scores of community garbage collectors by purchasing their raw material -- plastic and glass waste chucked by Gilgil's residents. So far, they have turned more than 56 tons of plastic waste into 75,000 tiles for 30 homes and businesses.
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