Living in plastic?

Posted on 31 March 2016.

Reduce the volume of plastic waste and at the same time beat poverty? Yes, we can! Around the world, entrepreneurs are developing the house of the future which is built with recycled or upcycled plastic.

On one hand, countless tons of plastic waste go into the environment every year. And on the other hand, millions of homeless people live in unsanitary conditions. And a solution is to be found in the middle: houses built with recycled or upcycled plastic. Some really innovative social and responsible housing initiatives are popping up around the world.

In Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico, about 3000 metric tons of plastic waste is produced every day. A valuable resource for KUADRO, a local SME that collects and recycles it to make PET panels (polyethylene terephthalate). Once assembled, they are used to build low cost houses that sell for just 5000 US dollars. A real opportunity for disadvantaged people who rarely have access to permanent housing.

Same principle for Nevhouse, a company based in Singapore, which develops its solutions throughout Southeast Asia. Plastics are collected and recycled into PET panels to create houses that can be assembled in just five days. On its website, the company points out all the benefits of these 2.0 dwellings: responsible, non-toxic, with an average lifespan of 100 years, as well as being water, earthquake and fire resistant! In Indonesia, Bali's governor has already fallen for the idea and plans to build 20,000 houses of this type in the island’s biggest slum area.

In bio-architectural terms, "upcycling" is not far behind. The German engineer Andreas Froese had the idea of upcycling empty plastic bottles to turn them into bricks. Simply fill them with soil, pile them up and join them together with a net. Which just leaves the gaps, which can be filled with sand. A final covering of lime and you have a perfectly solid and pleasing wall. Since 2001, his company ECO-TEC has been developing this innovation all over South America, as well as in Angola, India and Haiti. The goal is to bring local people new construction solutions - and in particular offer them a different view of their waste.

Kuadro: “Mexican company turns plastic waste into low-cost housing”:

Nevhouse: “Construction of the Nevhouse”: