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GeneralLiberia news

Bong: Youths turn plastic wastes into concrete blocks, tile

By: Joseph Titus Yekeryan

It appears very unusual to a lot of people when they saw Joseph Massaquoi and Emmanuel Korkollie gathering plastics in the streets of Gbarnga soon Monday morning.

The minds of being classical were placed aside and the two Bong County youths got in their operational garments to pick plastics and empty bottles from garbage that was parked along the core street at Iron- gate.

Putting on their masks and gloves without even paying heed to anyone, Joseph and Emmanuel continued the gathering of plastics and rubber bottles for the next day’s production.

Melting the rubber

“It requires hard work; it’s not just to collect the plastic but the production aspect is tough. We melt the plastic, mix it with sand and do several other things before producing the block and tile” Korkollie said.

They have already produced about 100 pieces of blocks and outdoor tiles from plastic wastes; the blocks and tiles are even stronger than the ordinary cement production.

This is almost the same thing that is currently being done in Nigeria since they started two years ago. The only difference is that Nigeria and its partners are heavily supporting their initiative through the Basel Convention Coordinating Center for African Region (BCCC-Africa) which has secured better equipment for them.

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For Emmanuel and Joseph, their story is however different.

Read more about Nigeria’s BCC-Africa’s support here https://tribuneonlineng.com/plastic-waste-management-in-nigeria-bccc-africa-commences-inventory-stakeholder-mapping/

Joseph and Emmanuel are using plastics, broken rubber buckets and any rubber materials to curtail waste in Gbarnga and its environs.

The pair in earlier  2020 established the “Liberia Environmental Awareness and Rehabilitation Network; focusing on safeguarding the environment and further helping to rehabilitate less-fortunate youths who are considered as”Zogoes “.

“The intent of the project is to mitigate plastic wastes in Liberia, and generate funds to create job opportunities for young people in Liberia through plastic recycling.”

“As an Environmentalist, I believe that Liberia will face serious environmental challenges, specifically plastic wastes if we young people do not muster the courage to ensure the mitigation of wastes in our environments” Emmanuel Korkollie added.

According to him, recycling will reduce dependence on landfall, conserve resources and protect the environment from plastic pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

A 2016 report by the World Economic Forum states that by 2050, there will be more plastics in   the oceans than fish if the current trend of plastic pollution is not reversed.

“Had we decided just to collect the waste and burn them, probably we would have gotten somehow tired of doing so because just burning them ordinarily does not bring dividends. But with the production of concrete tile and blocks, I am of the conviction that this will continue and our dreams will soon be a reality.

According to Emmanuel, they want to see Liberia free of plastic litter and to guarantee training of more young people in plastic waste management.

The entity was established through the innovation of Emmanuel, a graduate of Cuttington University who earned a degree in Environmental Science and Joseph Massaquoi, a Business Developer.

Besides the production of tiles and blocks with plastic, they are also involved with climate change mitigation and organic fertilizer production from biodegradable wastes.

The Bong County based young people started with just $200 USD and have so far produced about one hundred of them as samples.

To continue the project, they need financial support which would be in the tune of $2000 USD for the purchase of local materials as part of efforts to make their job easier.

These materials include trash buckets, shovels, wheelbarrows, and molders amongst others.

“The activities have started in Bong and we intend to expand to major cities in Liberia that are contributing huge wastes within the next six months,” Massaquoi said.

According to Research Gate, a Germany-based network of scientists and researchers, Plastics constitute 14.2 percent of Monrovia’s waste.

 With limited knowledge of the impact of plastic trash on the environment, many communities burn or bury their trash. The smoke emanating from the plastic is released into the atmosphere leading to air pollution.

This is exactly what Emmanuel and his team do not want; they rather prefer recycling them to get blocks and other materials for building purposes.

“The lack of manpower to increase production, the lack of standard equipment to melt the waste and several others are part of our challenges” he continued.

He said they can make Liberia a beautiful place and further help to improve the country’s economy if the necessary support is given by the government or Non-governmental Organizations.

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