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Joseph Muritu: Kenyan engineer turning plastic waste into fuel

by Paul Nyongesa
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In the face of the global plastic waste crisis, innovative solutions are essential to curb environmental degradation.

In Kenya, engineer Joseph Muritu has stepped up to the challenge with a groundbreaking approach: turning plastic waste into usable fuel using pyrolysis technology.

With over 20 years of experience in software and hardware systems across Africa, North America, and Australia, Muritu embarked on this journey to tackle the escalating plastic problem.

The story of this eco-entrepreneur begins with a fortuitous accident.

“In the last three years, I got an interest in chemistry and began a backyard experiment to recover aluminum out of waste aluminum materials. Out of a sheer accident, one time, we melted plastic, which gave us some jelly liquid. An interest came about, and we started researching. With this, we got into deep research into the field, and we haven’t stopped,” shared Muritu during an Interview with the Business Daily.

His innovation revolves around a locally assembled reactor that processes specific types of plastic waste, converting it into petrol and diesel equivalents. A

fter numerous pilot tests, Muritu and his team identified the right plastic materials to yield the desired fuel products. The plastic waste is sorted, shredded, washed to remove impurities, and then heated in a controlled environment.

Through two distinct temperature cycles, the process yields either a petrol equivalent or a diesel equivalent, catering to a wide range of engines, from small vehicles to heavy machinery.

To fund this venture, Muritu invested more than Sh5 million from his savings and continues to invest in the project, highlighting his dedication to addressing the plastic waste crisis in Kenya.

He collaborates with volunteer groups, scrap yard dealers, and local women to collect plastic waste in Kenol, Murang’a, where his initiative is based. The collected plastic is carefully sorted, processed, and converted into usable fuel products.

Despite encountering challenges such as funding constraints and convincing consumers to adopt their products, Muritu and his team have achieved significant milestones.

They have received an environmental impact assessment permit from the National Environment Management Authority, allowing them to operate for one year. Additionally, they have patented their innovation and created a trademark.

The certification process with the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) is underway, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.

Muritu’s initiative, though in its pilot stage, has garnered positive feedback from users who have tested the fuel products.

With close to 12 satisfied users, Muritu remains hopeful about the venture’s commercialization.

He emphasizes the importance of meticulous planning, adherence to statutory and regulatory requirements, and fine-tuning their products before launching them into the market.

Looking ahead, Muritu envisions commercializing and launching their products by the end of this year. He also plans to expand their operations to other towns within the next year, underscoring his commitment to mitigating plastic pollution and contributing to a cleaner, greener environment in Kenya.

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