From water sachets to flip flops

Waste plastics

When I first went to Nigeria nearly 30 years ago, I always took my own bags to the market when I went shopping . There were few plastic bags and the fruit and veg and even the eggs were sold loose. Shoppers took their own empty bottle if they wanted to buy groundnut oil for cooking. In Nigeria plastic bags have become more common but in addition drinking water is sold in individual plastic sachets. These are useful for those who are travelling or to help people through their school or working day if there is no other drinking water available. In the UK and elsewhere we have become more aware of the environmemental damage caused by waste plastic. in addition, in Nigeria the discarded water sachets can clog the drains and cause flooding.

The problem and the solution

Through Pam and Nikki of Dadamac, a connection was made between Fantsuam Foundation and  Ron Dennis and the students of City University and Imperial College who worked on alternative technology.  Marcus, who had worked on another project with Fantsuam, was able to bring back some plastic waste to the UK and Ron and his students manufactured a sample tile. Comic Relief had funded a feasibilty study and Linus, an engineer, went to the UK from Nigeria to work with Ron and his team on the possibilities of converting this plastic waste to something useful.

Market research

Comic Relief provided further money for market research and the tiles were shown to various people and organisations who might purchase them. As John said " we have the technology through Ron and now we have the raw materials and the market." The idea of the recycled plastic tile was well received and among other suggestions, it was thought the tile material might be used to make the soles of shoes! John reminded us that sometimes even old car tyres can be used to make flip flops! We wait to see where the discarded water sachets will end up.

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