How a social enterprise is using 100% recycled plastic waste products to change the face of Tanzania
Plastic consumption in the developing world is high and a concerted effort is certainly required to curb the effects it poses on the environment. Alexis Cronin and Evanna Lyons have embarked on a journey to make a lasting impact and provide an alternative solution to environmental degradation. Their social enterprise, Dunia Designs uses reconstituted plastic lumber (Greenwood) made from plastic waste found in the street as a replacement for wood in its furniture, decking and construction materials.
Dunia’s Unique Selling Proposition is its diverse product range that has made them the first company in the world to produce a comprehensive product range from handbags, couches, and decking from recycled plastic waste. They market and sell their furniture to safari lodges, hotels, offices, individuals and other commercial enterprises that benefit from the notoriety that comes with publicizing sustainable products and designs. This has proved to be a key component of the company’s success. East Africa’s safari lodge industry is specifically extremely large and provides 83% of Dunia’s current customer base.
The enterprise’s business model is fashioned in a manner that ensures that it makes profits as well as contributes to the community through its various initiatives. They are expecting to capture 5% of the East African formal furniture market valuing their market share at approximately $100,000,000. Dunia Designs has managed to garner sales figures of over €400,000 in the last 4 years, a clear indication that their business model is viable and in turn results in an improved circular economy.
Strongly influenced by its commitment to sustainability and impact, Dunia Designs sums their motives up in their Four E’ s; cleaning the environment of unwanted plastics captured and collected from marine and land sources; being a leading enterprise in the design industry and the production of high-quality products made from recycled materials; facilitating employment and upskilling local people in the entire process of waste management, from collection and processing to production and sales; spearheading education by providing tours of recycling facilities and educational talks to teach students, consumers and visitors the importance of recycling and the second life of plastic.
In terms of social impact, since launching their pilot project in Tanzania, Dunia Designs has employed skilled carpenters and upholsterers in Arusha as well as provided income to hundreds of environmental plastic waste collectors. The collectors retrieve plastic waste from local waterways and public, natural places, and deliver to Dunia’s collection centers for processing. The enterprise has also entered into waste collection agreements with over 50 schools and businesses in Tanzania. Dunia has to date provided 600 desks to the marginalized, helping to seat 1800n students in the process.
The impact of Dunia’s modus operandi on the environment has been tremendous. The company has collected 560 metric tons of plastic waste which when converted is the equivalent of 130 000 CO2 emissions captured. They have estimated over 7000 trees have been protected/not cut down while they have been in operation All this has been accomplished utilising only one medium capacity Greenwood output machine. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to be part of this incredible alternative to wood furniture, take a look at Dunia designs’ catalog here.
I hope you enjoy and have a lot to learn from this interview I had with Alexis Cronin:
Jocelyn is a Digital Storyteller who believes that the fusion of Social Impact Storytelling and Business Development is the key to the growth and sustainability of the social enterprise sector in Africa. Through her organization, Impact Chronicles, Jocelyn empowers African social enterprises and amplifies the message of Impact and Innovation to audiences the world over. She envisions the continent’s Changemakers thriving through collaboration and opportunities facilitated by Impact Chronicles