Green entrepreneur on the rise

Career & Education

Green entrepreneur on the rise

Zara Harris turns plastic waste into tiles, pavers

Sunday, January 05, 2020

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Founder of ReBuild, Zara Harris, has formulated a novel way of utilising discarded plastics in the construction of environmentally friendly, heat-resistant tiles and pavers.

The business minimises the amount of plastics in the environment, while the low temperatures of the products allow for cooler surroundings.

“These pavements will not reflect the sunlight in a blinding way, and [they will] facilitate a smoother run-off of storm water than traditional pavements. Moreover, we will use non-potable water in making the tiles,” Harris tells JIS News.

ReBuild's contribution to the circular economy also features the use of environmentally friendly mixtures.

“The manufacturing flexibility of the base material and its anti-slip, weathering-resistant, chemical-resistant, corrosion resistant and static-resistant features allow for a variety of uses,” Harris said.

“I plan to branch off into the use of plastics in the patching and construction of roads later on. At first, I was thinking of doing this aspect, but because of the large scale, I decided to start with the pavements,” she adds.

Harris was one of the Caribbean champions in ClimateLaunchpad's Global Grand Final 2019 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, from November 14 and 15, 2019. She was joined by fellow green enrepreneurs from Jamaica, Barbados and Suriname. The challenge saw over 100 teams from more than 50 countries competing to unearth the most feasible green business idea for 2019.

“I believe I was selected based on the relevance of the project and my drive and determination. I am heartened by the recognition, and my family and friends are delighted,” said Harris.

The young woman explained the rationale behind her green business, referencing research showing that 22 per cent of Caribbean households dispose of their waste improperly and that 30 per cent of the litter consists of plastics, making it one of the main pollutants offshore and onshore.

“I am concerned about our degree of pollution, and I believe this is an excellent way of addressing this issue,” she states.

“I don't think Jamaica will be free from plastic litter, but it will be reduced to a tolerable level. [The initiative will] increase awareness of the problem and encourage persons to live by sustainable means,” she adds.

Environmenal gains aside, Harris intends to contribute to the economic growth of the country by providing jobs for Jamaicans.

“I intend to employ many skilled workers in this venture. It will definitely grow the economy,” she tells JIS News.

ClimateLaunch Pad is a global, green business ideas competition that seeks to fix climate change, one start-up at a time.

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