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. Is innovative 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 Gabriel Use waste materials that are not currently managed 4 Use materials easily found within the environment 4 Doesn’t require extra materials 3 Improve overall waste management 4 Section One Sub total 15 Minimises waste dumping 2 Exploits many different waste streams 2 The solution does not produce/become waste 4 Converts waste into useful product 5 Section 2 Subtotal 14 Many potential applications 3 Solution can be widespread in community 4 Benefits all demographics in community 4 Development into an income stream 1 Sustainable long term 4 Durability 4 Section 3 Subtotal 20 Doesn’t use materials that have to be imported into the community 3 Materials are easy to gather 3 Specialised skills are not needed 4 Materials are easily available locally 4 Section 4 Sub Total 14 Resilient to flooding and monsoon 3 Easily adaptable to sloped environment 4 Pest and bacteria resistant 5 Durable in extreme conditions? -heat, sun, rain, cyclones/typhoons 4 Doesn’t leach harmful products (chemicals) into the environment 1 No negative health effects associated with design? 1 Material sourcing is sustainable and environmentally friendly 4
Personal experience, exploration.