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  • Andy Teale

Eco Brixs' Story and Future Plans

We've got an exciting new video to share with you!

Filmed at our HQ in Masaka, Uganda, this video features our CEO & Founder, Andy Bownds. He discusses how Eco Brixs began, how it's tackling plastic pollution and unemployment, and the organisation's plans for the future.

How did Eco Brixs Begin?

Eco Brixs began six years ago with one bottle and a big idea!

Back in 2017, Andy had lived in Uganda for three years by then. He couldn't help but notice that plastic was discarded everywhere he went - on the side of roads, in fields, by schools, and in waterways. It was a common sight he saw every day, wherever he went.

This was explained by the country's lack of waste management systems and an estimated 600 tonnes of plastic being discarded every day in Uganda. The lack of ways to dispose of the waste means people often dump it, burn it or bury it in unsafe landfills. This growing plastic problem, without an adequate solution, has recently been documented in Uganda's media.

Andy also knew that unemployment in Uganda is a huge problem, especially amongst marginalised groups. He started to wonder if a solution could be found to tackle both problems simultaneously...

After a few months of research and knocking on countless doors, Andy developed a model to tackle both plastic pollution and unemployment simultaneously... Eco Brixs was born!

Two Problems, One Solution

The Eco Brix model was developed to pay individuals for each kilogram of plastic they bring to Eco Brixs. The plastic waste is then recycled into one of 19 different products (eg. bricks, lumber, fence posts, flake) and sold by Eco Brixs. Using this revenue, further plastic is purchased from the community, and so the cycle repeats.

This allows the organisation to simultaneously clean up plastic pollution and create green job opportunities for the community. Furthermore, as value is added to the plastic waste by turning it into sellable products, this generates more revenue so more people can benefit from plastic collection (which cleans up more waste!)

To date, this model has allowed Eco Brixs to:

  • Recycle over 700 tonnes of plastic waste

  • Create over 3,000 green job opportunities for marginalised people (women, youths and people with disabilities)

  • Create 19 different innovative Eco-Products (made from 100% recycled plastic)

This incredible impact has been possible through the collective effort of the Eco Brixs HQ team in Masaka, which is made up of 33 full-time local staff.

The Future

The current recycling machine line at Eco Brixs HQ (where the plastic waste is recycled into Eco-Products) is currently recycling 50 tonnes of plastic per month. However, it has the capacity to recycle up to 100 tonnes per month!

The amount recycled by Eco Brixs HQ is largely tied to how much plastic it receives from the community through its Collection Network. The current collection network is spread across the districts of Masaka and Kalangala, with people collecting plastic in these regions and selling it to Eco Brixs, which feeds HQ with plastic to recycle, and therefore material to produce Eco-Products.

The plan is to expand the collection networks within the current districts of Masaka and Kalangala, and also expand it to three new districts also in Southen Uganda: Mbarara, Kabaale and Fort Portal.

A significantly larger collection network across 5 districts will help Eco Brixs HQ to buy much more plastic from the community, which in turn will allow it to recycle 100 tonnes of plastic per month. Plus, as the plastic is paid for, it means 2,000 more green jobs can be created to collect the plastic, with marginalised people filling the roles.

This growth will see Eco Brixs double the amount of plastic it recycles and provide 5,000 plastic collection jobs to marginalised people, helping to tackle plastic pollution and reduce unemployment in Southern Uganda.

We've come a long way since that initial 'bottle and big idea' to simultaneously tackle Uganda's plastic problem and unemployment problem using a circular model. We've been able to clean up a lot of plastic and help a lot of people by buying plastic and recycling it, and we can't wait to see where the next chapter takes us as we aim to grow our sustainable impact model across the South of Uganda!


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