Uplifted Zanzibar | Dumping sites and shredders

Lots of exciting and less welcome things happened these past several weeks!

First starting with a presentation from the general manager of Zanrec that enlightened us on how things actually work in Zanzibar. He started of by stating that the amount of tourists had doubled from 162,242 to 376000 in the last year and that each tourist produced about 2kg of waste a day. This emphasised the importance of proper waste management.

Zanrec is a private company that was founded in 2011 by Swedish investors. Their main goal is to clean Zanzibar and keep it clean. They are not an NGO so their services require a fee. Their main customers are hotels and restaurants. However, they also commit to initiatives in the local communities. Together with NGO's they want to motivate the locals in Jambiani and Kendwa to collect and separate their trash.

Even though they are taking up a huge part of the waste management on Zanzibar, the general manager said that Zanrec is experiencing some difficulties with the local government. This is quite strange because the government funded waste management system is as much as non-existent. They charge Zanrec a fee to collect trash in different districts because it is said to be governmental property. They are always looking at opportunities to expand their services, but due to governmental fees and the transport costs combined it remains a struggle. They fund their operations by fees and reselling their waste to third parties. For a fee Chako can collect bottles from the collection site when needed. Chako’s goal is however to catch the glass before it reaches the site. We would soon find out why.

After the presentation we payed a visit to the waste collection site. It was gross. And huge. It seemed like a never ending waste dessert. Rotting food remains mixed with used hotel slippers lay scattered on the forest floor. The smell, only made worse by the heat, was awful. We helped the Chako employees to collect some bottles. Our respect for these guys grew as we watched them plunge trough the dirt with what seemed like no disgust or hesitation at all. I must confess that I wasn't as dedicated as them and stuck to the top layer. This was a huge moment of realisation for us. Seeing the dump in real life for the first time, it dawned on us how big the problem was an how deep it was rooted. All this made us realize even more how important it is for Chako to embark in plastic recycling to avoid the dumping site to grow even more. Chako is already looking for partners in order to be able to collect plastic as well.

Secondly, a returning topic from the past weeks was finding a good gearbox. We had to choose between two options. One in the Netherlands from a reliable company but very expensive and not a hundred percent perfect. The other one from a less reliable source, a Russian man online with a one man business, with a very good price and the exact gearbox that we want. After a lot of debates and discussions with the founders of Chako and our coordinator from the TU Delft we came to the conclusion to go for the Russian one and trust the man’s word. Finally we made a decision and the motor should have arrived during the Christmas holidays when we were gone.

Thirdly, the shredder and injection moulding machine are -apart from minor tasks- almost finished! After drilling, threading , building, polishing, cutting, this repeating every day, we now have a finished shredder machine with a working motor that can be controlled via a switch. Another big element of the machines were the electronics. We spent lots of time to putting the wires together, figuring out the circuit, connecting them in the right way, screwing them together with wrong tools just because we did not have another choice, finding out how the PID controller works and how to adjust the different parameters.

Together with the employees we managed to make everything work and with some good results. Not the most perfect ones but good enough for now. Every time we think that there is no solution left to fix certain elements of the machine, employees pop up and just do something that eventually works surprisingly.

Now we are at the last phase of our project, namely experimenting and testing the machines. The shredder now works and can already shred plastic, but we still have to optimize how to shred the plastic more smoothly so that it don’t get stuck in the shredder. This week we are also going to test the injection moulding machine so that we can make our first product from recycled plastic!

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