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Nairobi entrepreneur sees opportunity in waste recycling and disposal

Before sending out a business proposal or applying for a tender, Richmond Gatu starts with meticulous research as long as it falls within his purview of engineering and his desire to protect the environment.

He says this is the criterion that guides Sintmond Group as well as its four divisions — energy, infrastructure, transport and environment.

And this how he ended up starting the Advanced Recycling Facility (ARF) for incandescent and energy-saving bulbs.

Mr Gatu, 39, says the idea to enter into the bulb recycling business was not his initial plan back in 2010.

In fact, he wanted to supply 1.25 million bulbs to the Kenya Power and Lighting Company, now Kenya Power, for its compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)/energy-saving bulbs exchanging project.

BULB RECYCLING

Although he did not clinch the tender, he got thinking about what the company would do with the used bulbs at the end of the project.

“I saw the component that required end-of-life mitigation was the lead oxide in the incandescent bulbs which is not only hazardous to the environment but also highly carcinogenic,” he says.

That same year, he went to Sweden to visit a factory that designs and makes bulb recycling machines. He also toured facilities in Italy and Germany in the same business and got convinced that bulb recycling venture was a viable idea.

On his return to Kenya, his first stop was at the offices of the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) with a proposal.

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