Wada Kealotswe is an innovator from Botswana who recycles newspapers into environmentally friendly pencils.
Her pencil brand is called Eco Zera Pencils, and she began it with her savings. She became inspired to launch her brand after attending the 2019 Youth Conference in Washington, D.C.
Before she participated in the youth conference in 2019, she had presented her newspaper recycling project to the World Bank for Smart and Resilient Cities.
Since her business began in Botswana two years ago, she has been operating there. Since she began manufacturing her pencil brand, Eco Zera Pencils has processed over 8,000 newspapers, manufactured 40,000 pencils, and sold approximately 39,000 pencils to date, according to the speaker.
According to her, eighty percent of the manufacturing processes are performed manually, while twenty percent require the use of machines. She obtains her newspapers, which would have polluted Bostwana’s rural and urban cities, from individuals and businesses.
In addition to newspapers, she uses other materials necessary for the production of pencils. China provides graphite and other raw materials, including machinery, for the production of pencils.
Kealotswe and her team process the newspapers by cutting them to the size of the graphite and then adhering the graphite to the newspaper slice using paper glue. The machine then rolls the remaining paper into pencil rods secured with resin glue.
“The rods are dried in the sun for approximately four hours before being hardened in an electric oven to resemble wood. The rod is then cut at both ends, giving it shape, before being filed for a smooth feel. “We then dress it with an eraser, sharpen it, and package it in a branded box of 12,” she explained.
In addition to the financial gains from the sale of the pencils, she has also sought to increase consumer awareness of environmentally friendly products. “There will come a time when fewer trees are used to make pencils. Destruction of trees disrupts the ecosystem, and individuals can help by purchasing green products,” she said.
Through her project, she has prevented the falling of thousands of trees. Her waste management initiative also earned her the SEED (Awards for Entrepreneurship in Sustainable Development) Climate Adaption 2021 Award.