In poor countries, housing shortages, a lack of building materials, and an abundance of plastic waste, often go hand in hand. By turning waste into building materials, a Colombian start-up is killing two birds with a stone.
Many people in developing countries don't have a roof over their heads, including in Colombia, where people too experience housing and accommodation shortages. However, building materials such as cement and concrete are either too expensive, or just not available. At the same time, ever higher mountains of plastic waste accumulate in landfills, with dire consequences for the local environment.
The Colombian start-up Conceptos Plásticos seeks to solve these two issues in one strike, by turning plastic and rubber waste into low-cost and sustainable, easy and quick to assemble building materials. The building process requires no special knowledge, only a hammer.
A LEGO-looking system consisting of blocks, beams, and pillars enables houses, schools and, thanks to the speed of construction, also emergency shelters to be erected.
The production process from the recycling of building materials was developed in 2014 by architect and start-up founder Oscar Mendez. The process allows plastic waste, a material which is generally difficult to recycle, to be melted and moulded into the desired shapes.
Over the past two years, Conceptos Plásticos has recycled more than 200 tons of plastic waste, which have gone into the building of new houses. The projects seeks to help reduce extreme poverty and unofficial settlements primarily in Colombia, although longer term it plans to extend its work to other countries too.