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One Army Inspires ‘Zim’s First’ Plastic Recycling Invention

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One Army a movement tackling global problems, running Precious Plastic, Project Kamp, Fixing Fashion and Phonebloks has inspired a Bulawayo based Entrepreneur to invent Zimbabwe’s First plastic recycling machine.

The global movement working on tacking global problems affecting the planet and humanity, according to Mr Qinisani Ndlovu is the only reason he built his plastic shredder which took three-and-a half months.

In an effort to tackle the plastic waste problem chocking Bulawayo, the enterprising youth, Mr Qinisani Ndlovu who is (34) of Hillside suburb successfully invented “Zimbabwe’s first” plastic recycling shredder to crush plastic bottles to produce High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) benches.

Mr Ndlovu did wonders by making long-lasting HDPE benches out of used plastic. A bench made of HDPE, does not splinter or break and painting or winter storage is needed.

With 23 rotors, the plastic shredder, which is powered by a 5kva motor, runs at a speed of 35 rotations per minute and can crush up to 14 bottles per minute. It uses both electricity and solar.

Dubbed the “uMhlaba Shredder”, the plastic shredder was engineered at Mr Ndlovu’s workshop in Thorngrove industrial area in Bulawayo. It was built using locally manufactured steel.

“We started building the shredder in February and it took us three-and-a half months to complete. It runs at a speed of 35 rotations per minute and can shred or crush 14 bottles per minute,” he said.

“We were taking almost three to four hours to produce plastic shreds, but with the shredder we managed to reduce the time to two hours. Part of the team that helped assemble the shredder are into fitting and turning.”

Mr Ndlovu said he is working on coming up with a better solar powered version which produces smaller pieces.

“Most of the plastic shredders in the country have been imported from China. In our case, we used local labour to build this shredder at our workshop in Thorngrove and I am convinced that it is most probably the first of its kind to be made in Zimbabwe,” he said

Mr Ndlovu, a holder of a Bachelor of Science Special Honours Degree in Urban Management Studies from Lupane State University (LSU) and MPhil in Entrepreneurial Leadership (University of Johannesburg), said his entrepreneurial journey started eight years ago.

 

Mr Ndlovu said after spending seven years in the construction industry and seeing a lot of plastic waste being produced, he decided to come up with a recycling initiative and formed a company, Umhlaba Waste.

“Being part of urban settlement and at the forefront of building structures and seeing how people live in urban planning, it got me thinking that probably one should come up with a recycling initiative. This is how the idea came about and slowly and surely, I began this business of recycling waste,” he said.

Mr Ndlovu said last year he did a lot of research having noticed that in Bulawayo people have a tendency of copying and pasting.

He said he dedicated his time researching on plastics and challenges associated with them.

“My post-graduate degree was actually based on waste at Burombo Flats. I then decided to start this initiative. We started formal production this year and have so far recycled 9kg of plastics, which translates to 200 bottles of HDPE since the beginning of the year,” he said.

Mr Ndlovu said the idea is premised on his love for education and sports.

“For a start we thought of doing benches and we have made a two-seater polyethylene bench that we call ‘umhlaba eco-bench’. We want to incorporate solar because going green is the way to go,” he said.

 

“When we first started, we jumped straight into making plastic benches using high density polyethylene which is very light. This is one of two plastic types that can actually be recycled.’

Some of the products that they have made include key holders, home décor furniture and a traveller’s pillow which is stuffed with shavings from (HDPE).

“The two plastic types that we actually require and use are polypropylene and High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE). We are getting our waste from residential areas and we want to acknowledge that we haven’t been properly trained in terms of handling waste so we have started by taking waste from nearby homes that we can trust,” said Mr Ndlovu.

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