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How plastic bottles have changed the life of a drug addict

 For many years people have viewed the plastic bottles as waste products until Francis Mutembei found it as an opportunity to earn a living and also conserve the environment.

Francis Mutembei displays a bottle table that he has made. Photo/MAURICE KYALO

During an interview, Mutembei, 29, explained that his wife was expecting a child and he had no means to cater for the family’s since he was unemployed.

This motivated him to quit drugs which he had started taking back in high school and look for a business idea that would help him raise his family.

Mutembei used to buy his wife quencher juices every day and one day he noticed that the bottles had piled up in the house and so he looked for an alternative on how to make the non-biodegradable bottles useful.

"One evening I bought wire with the aim of making a hanging line but when I arrived at home, I opted to use the wire and see how I could make something useful from the bottles. I came up with an idea of connecting the bottles using the wire and I made a table like structure and so this inspired me" said Mutembei.

Mutembei noted that his friend Oliver Mathure was supportive such that he encouraged him to make more items out of the bottles.

Later on, Mutembei made a table which he sold and he realized that the business was profitable and it can be successful since he is the 'mother' of the invention in Embu.

Mutembei explains that that he needs materials like glass and wood for the table to be complete but he lacks money to for the raw materials.

Sold six tables

He has sold more than six tables, prices ranging from KSh1,800 to KSh3,000 depending on whether the table has a glass or wood.

Mucira a customer to Mutembei's products says that he is pleased with the tables for they are affordable, unique and strong.

Mutembei had also come up with ways of mending broken plastic chairs using the plastic bottles and this ensures that one can sit comfortably without the fear of them getting broken again.

Just like other jobs Mutembei says that the main challenges he faces is lack of support from environmental organizations but he says National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is willing to support him in his business. "I went to NEMA and they requested for the bottled table as a display and that they would offer me support."

From the little amount of money he earns, Mutembei has managed to open a small workshop where he does his work. He has also encouraged children not to throw away the plastic bottles but bring them to him for recycling.

The form four leaver advices youths to look for business gaps and to be independent and not rely on formal employment. He also advised people to conserve the environment and recycle waste products.

In future he hopes to expand his business to higher levels and own a big workshop where he can employ many youths.


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