FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Waste Free in ‘23?

Waste Free in ‘23 is a goal that has been set by the Slums Going Green and Clean team to eliminate the export, dumping, and burning of wastes from the community of Kibera by the end of 2023. Currently, approximately 160 tons of waste are generated in the Kibera community per month. Our goal is that 100% of that waste will be recycled in a way that is environmentally friendly, a source of jobs and income for community members, and a source of products valued by the community such as tables, chairs, chicken feed, cooking gas, and fertilizer. 

What does Waste Free mean?

Waste Free, or Zero Waste: The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health (“How Communities Have Defined Zero Waste”).

What and where is Kibera?

Situated on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kibera is the largest informal settlement (slum) in Africa. Derived from a Nubian word meaning ‘forest’ or ‘jungle,’ Kibera is home to approximately 250,000 people living across an area of just 2.5 kilometres, making it a vibrant but densely populated area. Living in an informal settlement like Kibera is the reality for between 900 million and 1.6 billion people across the globe – about a quarter of the world’s urbanpopulation – and 60 percent of Nairobi’s population (“Kibera: A Look Inside Africa’s Largest Slum”).

What is the Slums Going Green and Clean plastic recycling solution?

Our solution is a micro-recycling system that is portable, easy to operate, and low cost, requiring less than USD 2,000 to build. It creates products that the community needs, including chairs, fence posts, roofing panels, and building walls. The system can be based where both the plastic waste and the consumers are located to eliminate transportation costs and to directly involve the community it serves. In addition, the equipment is safe to operate and can be operated with minimal training. Our solution can process 200kg per day of plastic waste using 60kW of electricity and can be built anywhere in the world. The crowdsourced plans are available at www.slums goinggreenandclean.org.

How can 100% of all plastic types be recycled?

Using a low temperature heat press, a variety of plastics can be quickly and safely compressed into strong sheets that can then be formed into a variety of useful products. Harder plastics and plastics that should not be heated can be shredded into fine bits and mixed into concrete to be used in construction.

Did Slums Going Green and Clean invent this recycling  process?

SGGC and WF23 used a crowdsource method to fund and solve the problem of plastic waste being burned, dumped, or buried in the environment. The process we use is called many things in the plastics industry.  Heat pressing, heat forming, and blow molding plastic sheets is a standard plastic manufacturing process.  Preciousplastics.com was a great inspiration, and we use their design of the standard plastic shredder for the Waste Free in ‘23 Micro Recycling Centers. 

Our major innovation is scaling down the factory-sized manufacturing process so it can be used in a micro-recycling center located right in the community that produces the waste. The waste is recycled into products such as fence posts, bins, trays, and furniture, which can then be used by the community. In this way, we create a circular economy. Additionally, the equipment is small enough to fit on a truck, so the micro-recycling centers can be portable and driven to remote villages. 

What is a Circular Economy?

https://ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/topics/circular-economy-introduction/overview
“In our current economy, we take materials from the Earth, make products from them, and eventually throw them away as waste – the process is linear. In a circular economy, by contrast, we stop waste being produced in the first place.”

The circular economy is based on three principles, driven by design:
Eliminate waste and pollution
Circulate products and materials (at their highest value)
Regenerate nature

Do plastics need to be cleaned and sorted to be recycled?

How plastics are prepared for processing depends on their intended use.  Clean and dry plastics produce panels with the highest strength and best appearance. However, a minor amount of organic matter, dirt, or water does not significantly impact the strength of the panels. 

What plastics can be recycled?

All plastics can be recycled, but current methods have proven to be economically unfeasible. The solution developed by Slums Going Green and Clean and Waste Free in ‘23 eliminates the costly processes, equipment and transportation of plastic recycling to create a model where 100% of plastics can be recycled.

What does it cost to operate the micro-recycling center equipment?

The recycling equipment is standardized to create 30cm x 122cm panels that are 6mm thick.  These panels are used alone or heat bonded to other panels to create a range of products. The heat press machine requires 6kW of power and will produce a panel every 6 minutes. Therefore, a single panel requires 600 watts to manufacture.  A cost of $.20 per kWh equates to $.12 per panel for energy costs. 

A single panel can be made into a 122cm long section of fence or a stool = $ .12

Two panels can make a fence post or a chair = $ .24

Four panels can make a section of roof = $ .48

Six panels can make a table = $ .72

Is Recycling of Plastics Safe for People?

There are many methods to recycle plastics.  The method we promote does not add anything to nor remove anything from the mixture of plastics collected for recycling.  

All the plastics recycled are post-consumer and our process does not increase nor decrease the environmental impact of the plastics. Please refer to this article for more information.

https://onearmy.github.io/academy/plastic/safety

Flammability

https://www.protolabs.com/resources/blog/flame-retardant-thermoplastics-and-ul-classifications/

We add nothing and remove nothing from the plastics we recycle so they have the same flammability before and after recycling.  If, for some reason, you need the products to have better resistance to burning, there are fire retardant products available to purchase.

Does the plastic smoke or smell when in the heat press?

https://www.plasticsindustry.org/advocacy/environment-health-and-safety/product-regulatory

https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ppis13.pdf

Our process does not melt the plastic. The plastic is only heated to 150c which is below the melt and processing temperatures of plastics by as much as 100c!  If, for some reason, ventilation and filtering is preferred, then commercial hoods and venting systems are available. Designs for a low-cost – build it anywhere – ventilation system with activated charcoal filter that will remove fumes and toxins from the plastic and other heated products are at our website www.slumsgoinggreenandclean.org

Can waste plastic be added to concrete

Multiple studies have documented that plastic can replace some of the small aggregate and large aggregate in the concrete commonly used with zero or very minimal impact on the performance of the concrete. Concrete used in “low strength” application could incorporate plastic waste as a substitute for some of the sand that is currently used. The mining and transportation of sand for use in the production of concrete is environmentally harmful.  

What is Pencils for Plastics?

Pencils for Plastics (P4P) is an initiative to help communities get children involved and educated in preserving the environment whereby children collect any type of plastic waste and receive a school supply in exchange.. Any individual or group can organize a P4P drive. For more information, please look on our website under “Equipment and Processes.”

What is Slums Going Green and Clean?

Slums Going Green and Clean (SGGC) is a community-based organization (CBO) that works to improve the living conditions in informal settlements such as slums by promoting environmental sustainability and cleanliness. The organization’s activities include:

  • Solid waste management: SGGC works to improve waste management in slums by promoting recycling, composting, and other waste reduction strategies.
  • Environmental education: SGGC conducts educational programs for community members on topics such as environmental conservation, waste management, and health and hygiene.
  • Livelihoods: SGGC supports community members with skills training and small business development to help them improve their livelihoods.
  • Water and sanitation: SGGC works to improve access to clean water and sanitation in slums by building latrines, wells, and community bathrooms.
What is Sow Grow Thrive Charitable Foundation?

SGT is a registered 5013c charity in the United States that promotes environmental, economic, and social sustainability globally by empowering and providing underserved communities with the programs, strategies, and funds necessary to implement change.

What are Black Soldier Flies and Fly Larvae

Answer to be posted soon

What happens to organic wastes

Answer to be posted soon

What are black soldier flies and larvae? Why are they called ‘black soldier’ flies?

The black soldier fly is a common fly that, unlike the common housefly, holds some unique properties so it can be put to good use by humans. They’re called ‘black soldiers’ because they look like old knights in shiny armor. How cool is that?

What happens to organic waste collected in Kibera?

Organic waste collected in Kibera is fed to the black soldier fly larvae, which feed on the waste to give an end-product known as frass, which is then fed into our biogas digester unit. Black Soldier Flies are excellent decomposers.

What are the benefits of processing organic waste?

We are making Kibera a cleaner, zero-waste community, solving the problem of waste management, thus curbing climate change. Additionally, we are empowering the members of community by creating employment (waste collection team, BSF farm operators) and providing biogas to a few SGGC members.

How many kilograms of waste do you manage in one month and are there plans to increase the system capacity?

As of 15, January 2023, we are processing 15 kg of waste daily. The goal is to be processing 500 kg daily by the end of January and 5000 kg daily by the end of 2023.

Why are you focusing on organic waste processing? What’s the fate of plastic and metallic waste?

More than 50 percent of the waste collected in Kibera is organic waste, followed closely by plastic waste. We will construct a BSF system using panels, rods and trays made from recycled plastic waste. In this way we won’t have to buy plastic trays. Therefore, no waste is really “waste”; we put everything to good use.

Generally, would you say the BSF system is an effective organic waste management system or should you develop another?

The BSF has proven to be quite effective. BSF farmers around the world are happy, just like we are. The BSF larvae are voracious feeders.

What is the biggest challenge faced in the organic waste management process?

The main challenge currently is funding. We have more organic waste than our system can handle, and we need money to increase the system capacity.

What’s the feeding rate of black soldier fly larvae?

1 kg of BSF larvae can process approximately 300 kg of organic waste daily. As we said, they are voracious feeders. We only need more space and trays to be able to process 5,000 kg of waste daily by the end of 2023.

You have many flies. Don’t they cause distraction to the people living nearby in terms of noise and smell? Do they carry disease?

Black soldier flies are docile. They stay in the love cage and at every stage in their life cycle, they are harmless to humans.

How long does a black soldier fly live?

Adult BSFs live for 5 to 8 days, during which they find a mate and lay eggs. The eggs take about 4 days to hatch and then the larvae take about 14 days before they are ready to become adults.

Do the larvae feed on every kind of organic waste or are they selective feeders?

BSF larvae are not selective feeders- they eat anything that’s dead and rotting, which is what makes them such an effective waste management tool. Grasses, leaves, cardboard and paper are given to worms to compost.

Are there specific conditions in which to successfully run a BSF system?

Black soldier fly larvae are kept at room temperature. They don’t have special, complex requirements for survival- just don’t freeze them.

Is the BSF system profitable in any way?

BSF systems can be profitable if costs are kept low and there is a market for the outputs -larvae and frass. The excess larvae can be fed to hens, which will be sold to yield income. Also, the frass collected from the BSF system is used in the biogas units. This will help the beneficiaries save money that’d otherwise have been used to buy charcoal.

Can human beings eat BSF larvae?

BSF larvae are packed with nutrients, and are an excellent source of protein and some communities do eat them. The

Does one need to monitor the BSF system throughout the day?

No, one doesn’t need to monitor throughout the day. Of importance is to ensure that the eggs are collected in good time and introduced into a hatching medium, and to ensure that the larvae have sufficient feed in the trays.

Who uses the biogas produced? Do you sell it?

We currently have one biogas unit. Our employee Alex, the man responsible for the pioneer organic system is the one to benefit from the system. As we scale up our system, more residents will be able to use the biogas for cooking.

Have you raised enough community awareness about the project?

No, not to 100% yet. It is a gradual process that has just begun. By the end of 2023, most of the residents in Kibera will have sufficient information about the BSF system and its benefits.

Why did you choose to start with Kibera and not any other slum in Kenya?

Answer to be posted soon

Who funds the projects? Is the Kenyan government involved?

Answer to be posted soon

How can I support this worthy cause?

There are many ways you can help.

Volunteer to write content for this website. All the information should be translated into different languages.

Invite charity and organizations you know to go Waste Free in ’23! Encourage them to recycle 100% of their waste and we can help

Donate money so more communities can start recycling.

https://gofund.me/6c5ed8ee

How many people have you been able to create employment for at SGGC?

Answer to be posted soon

Where do you take the plastic waste collected?

Answer to be posted soon

Do you provide protective gear like gloves and overalls to the waste-collection team?

Yes, protective gloves, clothes, glasses and masks are and should be provided to workers when recycling plastics and organics.

Do you intend to partner with companies to give them the plastic bottles and cans for them to clean and reuse or do you want to recycle everything collected?

Answer to be posted soon

There are other groups other than SGGC that collect and sell plastic waste. Would you be willing to buy plastic waste from them?

Answer to be posted soon

Will the plastic recycling generate income?

Answer to be posted soon

Do you clean the plastic before recycling? If yes, how much water do you use?

Answer to be posted soon

If water is used to clean the plastic, how do you dispose the waste water?

Answer to be posted soon

How many tonnes of plastic waste do you process per month?

Each Micro Recycling Center can recycle 8 tons of plastics a month

What kind of plastic do you mostly recycle?

Answer to be posted soon

How do you intend to deal with the fumes from the plastic waste recycling process?

Answer to be posted soon

The menace of plastic waste is widespread. Would you consider managing plastic waste that’s not necessarily from Kibera?

Answer to be posted soon

Have you thought to bring UNEP and UN-Habitat on-board? This is their niche.

Answer to be posted soon

Don’t you think conflict of interest might arise from the municipal governance that should be managing the waste?

Answer to be posted soon

Can I make a special request to have your team make a custom-made decorative piece made of recycled plastic?

Answer to be posted soon

Works Cited

“How Communities Have Defined Zero Waste.” US EPA, 26 Oct. 2022, www.epa.gov/transforming-waste-tool/how-communities-have-defined-zero-waste.

“Kibera: A Look Inside Africa’s Largest Slum.” Concern Worldwide, www.concern.org.uk/news/kibera-look-inside-africas-largest-slum.

What is a circular economy? ellenmacarthurfoundation.org. (n.d.). Retrieved January 24, 2023, from https://ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/topics/circular-economy-introduction/overview

WasteFree23 is a peer-to-peer network that empowers individuals and communities to reduce the cost of recycling and processing municipal waste.

  1. Communities and the environment benefit from low-cost waste recycling and processing.
  2. Empower and train community members to manage their own solid waste.
  3. Eliminate transporting, dumping, and burning of waste.
  4. Recycle and process all municipal waste to reduce sorting and cleaning.
  5. Use recycled and processed waste to benefit the workers and the community that generated the waste.

     Results:

  • 50% lower costs compared to some popular waste management methods.
  • Elimination of pollution from waste management.
  • A full-time, living wage job is created when one tonne of waste is processed each week.