Students of Problem Based Learning showcase their ideas on recycling plastic waste

Student showing a finished LCB unit

Student teams from the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology, Makerere University and Aalto University (Finland), have been working together under the umbrella of the Problem Based Learning East Africa Initiative to find ways to turn plastic waste into valuable products.

One of the concepts they developed was showcased in an event called Up-Plastic Kampala. The event was held on Friday 23rd February 2018 at the entrance of the CEDAT new building from 10:00am to 2:00pm. The goals of Up-plastic Kampala (Upcycling plastic waste in Kampala) were to support the Makerere University community to recycle plastic waste, create awareness in waste management by launching a workspace as a community hub for plastic-reuse innova­tions, prototype low cost building units from recycled plastic and steel wastes and address the challenge of youth unemployment.

A number of innovations were showcased at the event, including phone holders made from water bottles, plastic rulers, jewelery, art works, name tags, among others. The students also unveiled a solution they have been working on, termed as the LCB unit / building block. These are modern structural building components produced from plastics, steel slag and sand. The LCB Units show cased at the event were made from PET, a kind of plastic commonly used for bottling most water and soft drinks in Uganda. At the exhibition, the students also demonstrated to all interested visitors how the LCB units are made by cutting up plastic bottles into fine pieces, mixing them with sand and steel slag and heating them in a mold, placed in their locally made DIY plastic compression machine. The PBL students revealed that they were planning on producing a variety of other building units in the same way. They hope to produce tiles, pavers and blocks.

Problem-Based Learning in East Africa brings together multidisciplinary student teams from four universities to develop sustainable solutions to community challenges. The project that was launched om 2017 seeks to strengthen problem-based education in East African Universities and will up to 2020.

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