The design area chosen by my team is Waste Management. Our aim is to reduce the dumping of Codo’s waste in the environment and provide and alternative purpose for those materials. The plastic bottle brick is an option that combines plastic bottles, bags, packages, and many other types of dry waste to create a brick much stronger than the traditional one. A huge initiative to use this brick can be seen at the Eco-Tec’s Ecoparque El Zamorano, in Honduras. The Eco-Tec team built a house constructed with 8,000 bottles with composting toilets and a solar water heating system. The green roof can weigh 30 tons when wet and has been supported by the walls without any extra reinforcement. It was the first house in the world made from PET bottles without using cement in the walls. They built other structures such as a greenhouse. Pic 1 – first PET house, Honduras
This construction system may be applicable to different environments and areas such as eco-tourism, recreation, communal areas (bus stops, parks, communal houses), new housing construction or improvement of it, water storage tanks and etc. The intention is to use plastic waste to create a structure capable of servicing the community. What is necessary to build a plastic bottle house?
Around 7000 to 9000 bottles are necessary to make a big house. This large amount can create a sourcing problem for the people in Codo, they don’t buy them very often and they even use some for storing coconut oil. The costs are minimum, the plastic and waste used to fill the bottles can be found where it is thrown in the environment, the wires used to tie the bottles are sold from 2.75$ to 5$ the meter. These expenses can be easily divided by the community. Apart from the plastic bottles, sand and some cement leftovers can be used to create a construction mixture to put between the bottles to enforce the walls. The final product is well isolated and resistant to high and low temperatures, twenty times stronger than regular bricks. The knowledge required to build is the same as any construction project so any local with experience in that area can do it and teach others.
How to make the plastic bottle brick?
It is very easy to build the plastic bottle brick, all you need to do is stuff the bottles with as many dry waste (Tire scraps, paper, plastic packages, etc.) and/or sand as possible and keep pushing it to the bottom with a stick. From personal experience the process takes about 30min. Once it’s stuffed you can tie the bottle to make it more compact or not. Any bottle size can be used and the only caution is to use dry materials.
How does it benefit Codo? The plastic bottle brick and Codo’s community As said in the EWB website, the locals have a lack of understanding towards the recycling process. Building a structure almost entirely made by recycled material can serve as example for the community of how important and useful recycling is. In addition, the current housing and other types of infrastructure in Codo are all very simple and humble, this could make their homes more resistant and provide them shelter during the monsoons. Knowing that the people living there don’t have much knowledge on recycling, sustainability and waste management practices, the brick could be used as a tool to spread the notion of how trash can become something new and useful for everybody. The material gathering process can be done by people from all ages and used as a way to raise the awareness towards sustainability, especially for the children in the community.
How adaptable is the plastic bottle brick?
The brick can be used in any kind of brick based construction, like greenhouses and storage units. They can be filled with virtually any kind of dry waste, which makes it easy to stuff them. And also the bottle sizes can be varied as long as used in separate sections. In terms of other uses I have been researching if it can create a barrier capable of holding the flood water from the monsoons, but I’m still uncertain whether it can be done. In addition an option I’m also keeping in mind is whether you can mix both types of construction, traditional and eco, so you don’t have the shortage of bottles and materials. Pros
The houses and structures last up to 400 years.
Turns plastic waste into a useful product for all the community Minimises waste in thrown in the environment
The structures are weather proof and can resist strong winds Cons
Requires a lot of plastic bottles
Gathering process can be exhausting
Might not be able to resist monsoons and floods
Can take too much time if not done by many people
Evaluation of Design Option
The following table is on a scale of 1 (least) to 5 (most) with 0 being unknown
Use waste materials that are not currently managed
Use materials easily found within the environment
Doesn’t require extra materials
Improve overall waste management
Section One Sub total
Minimises waste dumping
Exploits many different waste streams
The solution does not produce/become waste
Converts waste into useful product
Section 2 Subtotal
Many potential applications
Solution can be widespread in community
Benefits all demographics in community
Development into an income stream
Sustainable long term
Section 3 Subtotal
Doesn’t use materials that have to be imported into the community 3
Materials are easy to gather
Specialised skills are not needed
Materials are easily available locally
Section 4 Sub Total
Resilient to flooding and monsoon
Easily adaptable to sloped environment
Pest and bacteria resistant
Durable in extreme conditions?
-heat, sun, rain, cyclones/typhoons
Doesn’t leach harmful products (chemicals) into the environment 1
No negative health effects associated with design?
Material sourcing is sustainable and environmentally friendly 4
Personal experience, exploration.