Kamugyisha earns big from recycling plastic waste into roofing tiles

With most urban centres choking on waste, one man is taking matters into his own hands by recycling plastic waste into roofing tiles, a job that has earned him a living. 

This is 28-year-old Frank Kamugyisha.

Between 2012 and 2019, Kamugyisha worked as an Estates manager at Ibanda University where a lot of waste including plastics was disposed of through burning.

“One time the waste was burnt on a heap of sand, some plastic melted and mixed with the sand forming some hard shapeless substance. It was very hard that we used a hammer but it couldn’t break. This hard to break particle was a sign that something good can be made out of plastic and sand,” Kamugyisha says.

He says that he realized he could try out recycling plastics and this gave birth to his Ecoplatiles company in 2019.

“My colleague and I got an oven made out of metallic drums and borrowed paver molds that we used on our first attempt to make a product. It turned out unsuccessful and even after several trials, we did not get anything close to the first product.”

The duo decided to give it a second, third up to the twentieth shot to get the prototype, which according to Kamugyisha was a heavy duty brick that can be used in the compound for heavy trucks to easily pass.

“When we did, I left my job and came to Kampala. I had done research and saw how Kampala was choking on waste and the story about government banning plastics. However, shortly after we had started operation in 2020, COVID-19 came in and we were forced to close business.”

He says when the pandemic hit, he ventured into making of facemasks out of reusable materials including plastic that he sold to enable him earn a living during the difficult time.

Turning point

In 2021, Kamugyisha moved to Namanve where he set up a bigger space for operation as he resumed his business of recycling plastics.

During the same time, he was contacted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and awarded a contract to do work for them on using chemical-free energy-conserving plastic extrusion technology to manufacture plastic timber and timber saving roofing tiles in Uganda.

The funds he got from this, according to him, was the turning point in his venture.

The partnership with the Japanese agency also gave him international mileage.

Because of these funds, the company got a more spacious home and acquired the first machine to enable him crush plastics.

“For instance, before getting the JICA contract, we were producing seven tons of tiles [per month] but are now producing up to 20-25 plastic tons per month. The contract also required us to recruit more youth which we have done.”

Kamugyisha says he also designed the WasteInsure App, an application which enables users to earn from the waste collected.

Through the application, users earn points which they can redeem for health care or school fees.

Kamugyisha says that the company has recruited 150 people directly and indirectly, 80% of whom are women and youth.

He adds that apart from making roofing tiles, he collects plastic from several sites in Kampala and its surroundings where he pays for this waste.

He says that to ensure that the tiles meet the demand, Kamugyisha says that quality assurance is key.

“We have been working hard to meet international standards so that the product can be used anywhere in the world. We want to have a product which is going to stand all weather conditions and won’t fade nor be affected by fire or any natural hazards,” Kamugyisha says.

“Because each product needs a different production machine, we looked at the cost benefit analysis and realized we could focus on roofing tiles. When we start producing timber, we are certain it is going to reduce deforestation. Users will save about 30 percent timber to finish up a roof, which will in turn save construction costs.”

 Looking forward

 He says that Ecoplastile has used 360 metric tons of plastics since 2019 but wants to increase on the output

 “We want to grow production from 30 metric tons per month to 150 metric tons,” he says.

According to Kamugyisha, once a client chooses to use Ecoplastile roofing tiles, they save one mvule tree for every three-bedroom house and save 25%-30% on construction costs.

He explains that because his tiles are lighter, the cost of construction reduces because the roof is light.

Currently, Ecoplastile manufactures 1, 000 tiles per day.

In 3 years, Kamugyisha says they want to be producing 2, 500 tiles per day.

“We have many orders that we can’t supply. We don’t have a big budget but the market is growing,” he says.

A square meter (over 8 pieces) of roofing tiles at Ecoplastile costs Shs 42, 500.

This means that each tile costs less than Shs 5, 000.

Related Articles

Back to top button