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  • Andy Teale

Kizza Frank's Story: Creating Change through Recycling

Kizza Frank, a Plastic Collector at Eco Brixs, standing on a beach at Lake Victoria with a sack of plastic

Kizza Frank is sixteen years old and has taken it upon himself to help recycle plastic in his local neighbourhood, called 'Malembo Landing Site'. As a young adult in Uganda, Frank is at risk of unemployment due to the country's widespread youth unemployment problem where 62% of people aged 16-24 years old are unemployed.

The area of Malembo is on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kalagala district and just south of the Equator. It's a beautiful location, overlooking Africa's freshwater Great Lake, which is home to finishing communities. Typical jobs include fishermen and fishmongers, and the most common method of transport is using a bicycle!

However, the area is plagued with plastic waste due to a lack of waste management systems, which results in people burning, burying or dumping their plastic waste as the only means to dispose of it.

Now, Frank, a Plastic Collector for Eco Brixs, has taken it upon himself to change this situation.

"The burning of plastic bottles in open spaces is normal to the community who don't know the danagers of inhaling toxic fumes"


How Frank Started Collecting Plastic

Frank began collecting plastic after he met one of the Eco Brixs team who was working in the district to establish recycling infrastructure in the area. When Frank asked what he was doing, he explained the dangers of plastic pollution.

This was a revelation for Frank as he has grown up being used to seeing plastic litter everywhere in his neighbourhood. Furthermore, he didn't realise until then he could earn an income from collecting plastic by bringing it to Eco Brixs, who would trade the plastic for payment.

Since then, Frank has been collecting plastic to help clean up the area, as he knows this will help protect the community and allow him to earn an income. He feels satisfaction from knowing he is leading by example, cleaning up litter in front of other people and raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution.


Resistant to Change

Whilst Frank is trying to lead by example by cleaning up and collecting plastic, he finds people in his community are resistant to changing their habits with plastic waste. He has even told us he once caught someone trying to burn the plastic he had collected as that is a common method of disposing of plastic in the area. They thought they were doing Frank a favour!

Burnt plastic waste in Uganda
Frank's stock of plastic after he put the fire out - the person who did this thought they were helping Frank to dispose of the waste and didn't realise burning it released dangerous fumes

He also finds that as a young person, people expect him to be working in a typical job, either fishing or working in a shop in town. Some of the elders even label him as “mad” because they have no interest in his plastic-collecting initiative. However, Frank is confident in what he is doing:

“Eventually they will know that plastic collection hasn’t only cleaned up [Malembo] Landing Site but it has also increased the volume of my wallet and they will realise the financial benefits of the work."

Speaking to Eco Brixs, Frank told us he is determined to grow his plastic collection work. Rather than just collecting plastic himself, he wants to open a 'Community Buy Back Centre' with Eco Brixs, where he will manage a small site and buy plastic from other members of the community. He will then sell this plastic to Eco Brixs in bulk.

To begin this journey, we provided Frank with scales, PPE (personal protective equipment) and tonne bags to store the plastic he collects.

Frank proudly said:

"The best highlights of plastic collection is the instant pay, the landing site lacking plastic waste and beating plastic pollution."

It's brilliant to see Frank wanting to drive positive change in his community whilst earning an income to support his lifestyle and with the ambition to scale up his work by opening a Community Buy Back Centre. We can't wait to see how much plastic he collects in 2024 with his drive and enthusiasm!

Plastic litter outside someone's house in Uganda
It's common to see people living in homes filled with plastic litter as they have no knowledge about plastic management and the dangers of pollution

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