Last week, the SAB Foundation announced its Social Innovation Awards and Disability Empowerment Awards winners and Kekeletso Tsiloane, PlastiBrick from Sasolburg, Free State won second place, receiving R900 000 in the Social Innovation category.
Kekeletso Tsiloane, who hails from Sasolburg in the Free State, successfully prototyped an invention that uses recycled plastic to manufacture stock and maxi bricks that are strong, durable, fire retardant, and environmental friendly. “We developed the PlastiBrick with the aim of reducing plastic waste. Another added benefit is that no water is used in the production of the bricks, thus helping with the preservation of water. We collect plastic from landfills, households, and waste pickers and use it as raw materials,” said Kekeletso.
PlastiBrick has a prototype which has been tested by the South African Bureau of Standards and has been found to be stronger and less absorbent than cement bricks. It has been sold to small scale contactors, but PlastiBrick is at capacity at the moment as bricks are sold in bulk.
“Competitively, our bricks are not only environmentally friendly, but are denser and therefore have a lower water absorption rate, allowing a building to have a longer lifespan,” added Kekeletso.
Tsiloane represented the Free State province at the Disability Empowerment Awards, which are aimed at promoting social innovations that improve the quality of life for people with disabilities through assistive devices, training or employment. She has nine permanent employees. “We aim to empower women, youth, and disabled individuals. We would like to facilitate training in recycling materials and employ more women in the manufacturing of PlastiBrick. As for the youth, we aim to train and employ unemployed youth and those at university. The manufacturing operation does not require much skill and therefore we would like to employ disabled individuals,” she said.
First place went to Regenize, which was developed by Chad Robertson and business partner, Nkazimlo Miti. It’s a free and inclusive recycling solution that rewards people for sustainable behaviour by exchanging their recycling for a virtual currency, Remali, the value of which is determined by the weight of recyclables. In third place is Put It Out, a mini fire extinguisher designed by Toli Altounis, which is a cost effective, non-toxic and easy-to-use fire extinguisher devised to curb shack fires. The R750 000 will help put the extinguisher into the hands of those who are at risk.
SAB Foundation awarded all 20 finalists with funding to a total value of R13 650 000.