An ecological plastic bottle village

Posted on 22 September 2016.

In Panama, a Canadian is building houses with plastic bottles. Reused, they become environmentally friendly insulation and reduce the carbon footprint of the homes.

Living in a house in the Plastic Bottle Village means reusing 14,000 plastic bottles!

A picture postcard, the Bocas del Toro archipelago is home to sandy beaches, lush rainforest, typical houses on stilts... and a unique village - the Plastic Bottle Village. In 2012, driven by Robert Bezeau, a Canadian living the province of Panama, a voluntary recycling program was set up on Isla Colón, one of the islands in the archipelago. After 18 months of collection, over a million plastic bottles abandoned on this idyllic island had been recovered. The ecology-loving entrepreneur decided to help to reduce waste by reusing them.

14,000 plastic bottles per house

Since 2015, on a 300,000 square meter plot near the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea, 120 houses have been erected. Measuring around 100 square meters, they are built with 14,000 plastic bottles - the equivalent of the lifetime consumption of one person. Ecological but also economic, this process not only reduces construction times but also the amount of water used when building in the usual way. All without sacrificing local architecture or comfort in these homes!

The Plastic Bottle Village: an eco-residential community

Old plastic bottles are used to make weight bearing insulated walls. Fitted inside a strong steel frame that will resist earthquakes, the bottles are then covered with concrete. These walls lower the interior temperature of the houses by 17°C compared to the outside temperature – and so there’s no need to use the energy greedy air conditioning that is popular in this tropical climate.

Ultimately, the Plastic Bottle Village would like to become an eco-residential micro-city with shops, community gardens, and most importantly a training center. Its founder Robert Bezeau wants to spread his mission across the world: turn waste into high quality building materials, and so reduce the carbon footprint.