Arena recycling Industry

Arena Recycling Industry
Published: 28 April 2021
Last edited: 28 April 2021
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Arena Recycling Industry was established in 2018 with the aim of saving the world from plastic waste. The company is a social business enterprise that collects plastic waste from beaches in Dar es Salaam and produces building materials such as Eco-Bricks, paving blocks and tiles out of recycled plastic waste for the construction of affordable houses, toilets, and other buildings in rural areas. This solution not only contributes to plastic-free beaches and waterways but also helps bridge the water and sanitation gap by constructing water tanks and latrines with eco-bricks. Arena educate and promote the change of behavior in waste disposal, by involving community into recycling logistics and improve their income by buying collected plastic waste from the environment. The collected plastics are then sorted according to density, melted, and mixed with sand to produce bricks.


East and South Africa
Scale of implementation
Freshwater ecosystems
Marine and coastal ecosystems
River, stream
Cities and infrastructure
Health and human wellbeing
Local actors
Marine litter
Science and research
Sustainable livelihoods
Waste management
Urban and Disaster Risk Management
Sustainable urban infrastructure and services
Urban poverty and housing
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Infrastructure development
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of infrastructure
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 14 – Life below water
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 8: Pollution reduced
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with associations


Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania


Although Arena recycling is reducing plastic waste from beaches and waterways, their work requires a huge space for production activities. Currently, there is no specific area set aside by the government for industrial plastic recycling activities. They are operating in nearby human settlements which cause environmental damage like noise pollution. Also, Eco-bricks are new to society so some people are questioning their durability and safety. Economically, recycling plastics wastes to make Eco-bricks require an investment of advanced machinery. As a start-up enterprise the challenge is a lack of capital and low production capacity hence they do not meet the high demand from customers.


  • Waste pickers and women involved in sorting of waste 
  • Arena employees
  • Urban dwellers who got their waste collected
  • 3000 students who have access to sanitary facilities in their schools (partnership with Young Water Solutions)

How do the building blocks interact?

Establishing a strong partnership with companies producing plastics has enabled Arena to access clean and plenty of plastic raw materials that are suitable for making eco-bricks and pavements. One of the characteristics of Arena bricks is that they are waterproof and are recommended for use in wet areas. Moreover, Arena Recycling Industry is involved in beach clean-ups twice a month where they collect the waste as raw materials and add values through recycling. From these initiatives, they have managed to raise USD 3000 which helped them to fabricate a small machine for making high-quality pavers. Also, they have partnered with an NGO called Young Water Fellow by signing a contract to build toilets in the primary school of Temeke district. The project was affected by Corona but they have managed to complete it early this year.


To date, Arena has successfully collected more than 500 tons of plastic waste and has produced and sold more than 25,000 Eco-bricks, and 10,000 Square meters of pavement blocks. The collection of plastic waste contributes to the health of the environment and surrounding communities. Also, Arena has partnered with Young Water Solutions Organization to serve 4500 students by constructing 12 pit latrines and 2 water tanks in Kiburugwa and Karume primary schools in Dar Es Salaam. This means that 70% of students have access to quality water and sanitation through the construction of water tanks and toilets by using Eco-bricks. Moreover, Arena has created employment for vulnerable people especially women and youth through business and project activities. It has created 8 direct jobs and 20 indirect jobs, 65 % of these employees are individual households who are living with less than $2 per day. The arena has reached more than 6000 people through exhibitions, congress, conference, public speaking, and social media platforms on awareness about plastic waste management.


Arena Recycling Industry

Hellen, a Medical Laboratory Scientist is the CEO and founder of the Arena Recycling Industry. Hellen's engagement in plastics began the time she worked as a volunteer for PHEDES an organization involved in psychological and environmental issues. Among the activities they were doing is beach clean-ups where a large percentage of waste collected were plastics. During her time at PHEDES, she attended the United Nations sustainable development goals meeting where she gained knowledge about plastics waste and its impacts on the Ocean. Hellen learned that there were business opportunities in plastics recycling but she didn’t know how to do it. After reading and watching videos she started experimenting at home by collecting plastic waste and heating them in a pot to see what will happen but no one supported her ideas. Her parents thought she was just destroying household utensils. Although, she did not get the support she continued trying until she produced a prototype. She showcased her product but received no support because no one believed plastics would make bricks. She used her own funds about TZS 100,000 to fabricate tools and did many trials of different formulas until when she got a proper one. Hellen and Irene started working together and whenever they attended business meetings they shared ideas, some would tell them is good but some would say it is impossible. They decided to follow positive opinions by presenting their idea to different forums. As they continued to grow they welcomed other members with whom they interacted at different forums. Those members were interested in what they were doing and requested to join. One was a graduate from the University of Dar es salaam, studied marine science with interests in conservation and another one had skills in human resource management. They started by collecting plastic waste themselves from places like shops, and households and later established a plastic collection center at Buza. They hired people who are in charge of the station, whenever the collection is enough they hire a car to bring all the plastic waste to the factory. The price differs depending on the source, buying directly from collectors is TZS 150-200 per kg and from people owning collection centers is TZS 250-300 per kg. Also, they organize beach clean-ups twice a month where all plastic wastes collected are raw materials for their factory. The year 2018 was the time to validate their products and 2019 is when they have managed to produce pavers and bricks.

Contributed by

lgaspare_39507's picture

Lydia Gaspare University of Dar es Salaam, School of Aquatic sciences and Fisheries Technology