Unisa student designs innovative bin to solve food waste problem
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Pretoria - The frustration of seeing tons of food ending up as waste at many Tshwane dump sites compelled a Unisa education student to think out of the box.
As part of the Tshwane inter-university innovation challenge in November, Petunia Ndou and her teammates found the city had 10 landfills, five of them already so full that they had to be permanently closed.
She said a bin they designed had a grinder that shredded all kinds of food waste into small pieces. These are dropped into the bed of the bin, which contains material that neutralised odours.
“The grinder is sealed so that it is safe to use and child-friendly, and can be operated manually or with electricity.
“It will take the form of a recycling bin for household food waste which, instead of clogging up the City’s landfills, will be converted into biofuel.”
Ndou said she and her teammates recently started their own business, Ubuhlebezwe Waste Solutions, and would offer collection services and washing the bin.
She said only one in 10 households segregated their waste for recycling, and they wanted to help households to participate in conserving the environment.
Ndou and two teammates won third prize in the waste management category of the competition and received R50 000 to fund the food waste solution.
The aim of the competition was to encourage students from Unisa, the University of Pretoria and the Tshwane University of Technology to develop solutions to the most pressing service delivery problems, focusing on energy and electricity, waste management, revenue collection and transportation.
“The training was the eye-opener I needed because it pricks holes in your idea and makes you think: What am I missing? Is there a market? No matter how wonderful your idea seems, there is always more to be added.”
She said she and her business partners were in the process of sourcing a manufacturer to make their first working food waste bin.
Ndou said she already had a BTech degree in human resources and would continue with her education studies at Unisa while building her company.