Every day, we dispose of 600 tons of plastic waste, which means 51% of this plastic waste is left uncollected. Only 1% of plastic waste is formally recycled. “In Uganda, huge amounts of plastic waste are poorly disposed of, in open environments, trenches, etc. Others are burnt into toxic fumes, which causes damage to our lungs, resulting in diseases like lung cancer,” Zaharah Nabirye, a Ugandan entrepreneur, told Savvy.
Zaharah Nabirye is solving this problem through her project, Plastrix Pack, which transforms and up-cycles plastic waste into sustainable fashion while creating employment opportunities for single mothers as tailors, and for youth as waste collectors. When asked, what groups of people will benefit from her project, Zaharah said, “Basically single mothers from the age of 18-35 years and young people from the age of 18-25 years.”
In order to generate revenue and become sustainable, Zaharah will sell her upcycles accessories. With time, she expects to sell more products, with the hope of sales rising by 70% every year. “Our upcycled products are environmentally friendly, durable, sustainable, affordable, and waterproof. Our rationale behind our products is that they are made from available resources. This makes our approach to combating plastic waste, cheaper and effective,” Zaharah added.
She believes her project will have a huge impact on her community and the whole of Uganda by creating employment opportunities for the people that sell plastic waste to Plastix Pack. Also, Plastix Pack will help single mothers generate income as they produce the final products from plastic waste. She said, “Up-cycling waste plastic into sustainable and waterproof accessories will reduce the amount of waste that would otherwise have been harmful to the environment.”
But is Zaharah and her team, informed enough to solve this problem? She seems to think so: “I and my team have the passion for fashion and the fight for our environment. Since our childhood, our lives were are being affected by heavy floods when it rains. All the waste could block the trenches and roadside, which sometimes would lead us to miss school.” They have first-hand experience of the negative effects plastic waste poses to our environment. This and their love for fashion should lead them to success.
Zaharah Nabirye is a 2021 Savvy Fellow from Uganda. She is the Founder and Director at Plastix Pack