INTERVIEW: How to stop flooding, save aquatic life — Mrs Kurfi, Green Architect
Troubled by the menace ubiquitous plastic substances pose to the environment, Mrs. Intisar Bashir Kurfi who studied Architecture at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria has become an advocate for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She has taken up the business of converting assorted plastics into interlock tiles, which are used in construction. Kurfi who calls herself Green Architect explains to NatureNews’ Hikmat Bamidele that cities will be devoid of plastic waste if the public learns to segregate their waste and waste management authorities do not mix them. She laments that plastic waste in the street is channeled into the water bodies thereby causing flooding and harm to aquatic animals. Read on:
NatureNews: What is the technical motivation behind this idea?
Kurfi: The reason why I went into this is because of the plastic pollution that is polluting everywhere. I have always had problem seeing this on the streets, in urban towns and villages, so I started researching on what we could do better with it, how we could collect them and transform them into something better.
NatureNews: What are the challenges you face in getting this executed?
Kurfi: Parts of the challenges are sourcing for the raw materials, which is plastic waste. People don’t segregate their waste from where they generate. Even state government and local government do not collect this waste in segregation, they mix them all up, and making it difficult for us to get the amount we want.
Also machineries, we need advanced machineries that will produce without any negative environmental impact which we don’t have, which makes the problems interrelated.
NatureNews: In what ways do you think this innovation can be of help to the environment?
Kurfi: Like from the social impacts, people like the collectors that gather the waste for us, those who sort the waste, those we buy from, those employed to work for us in the factory, they all benefit, they are people who may be jobless or do not have enough means of earning, but with this innovation, they will have extra income as it is a job opportunity.
This innovation also contributes to the environmental sustainability whereby wastes that are usually channeled to the water bodies to cause flood or to be eaten by aquatic animals are now channeled into something good. This innovation is faster to use unlike the conventional interlock tiles that we have. Also, in terms of production, it doesn’t require so much energy that you require in producing cement.
NatureNews: Is this innovation more affordable than the regular interlock?
Kurfi: It is more affordable on the longer term, because it lasts longer than other interlock tiles that are sold at a cheaper rate. So, it is more affordable in terms of durability.
NatureNews: Have there been interests from the Nigerian public?
Kurfi: After our BBC video went viral, so many people were interested in the technology product because they were amazed that the regular plastic waste seen to be useless, can be transformed into something good.
NatureNews: Has there been any issue in terms of government regulation?
Kurfi: Well, from the government side, for now there are no issues regarding regulations or standards to meet up to.
NatureNews: How scalable is the production process in terms of industrial production?
Kurfi: You know, because we are just a start up, we started it on our own and it is not that we have financial support from anywhere, we just saw it from research and we were not sure if it was going to work or not. So it was after doing the practical, we tried and tested it then we were sure of it.
However, for now, we produce for private individuals, not on a very large scale. We hope to upscale it when we get the funding and necessary machineries and equipment to upscale.
NatureNews: Are you exploring partnership in order to expand into industrial scale?
Kurfi: Yes, we are exploring partnership with some government and private agencies for partners and also looking for government interventions that we can get in terms of loans to help us upscale.
NatureNews: In terms of exploring have you tried reaching out to construction companies such as Julius Beger, Dantata?
Not really. We are yet to reach out to those big construction companies for now. Although, we reached out to estate developers, not construction companies because we want to see that we have the capacity before looking for future partnership with them.