Plastic waste remains to be one of the biggest ecological problems the modern world faces. While scientists try and ‘hack’ the omnipresent material to make it biodegradable, cities impose strict recycling rules and eco-warriors do away with plastic all together, one Canadian innovator is hoping to put used plastic bottles to good use by building with them. “Average humans can consume 15 or more drinks in plastic bottles a month. If you were born after 1978, and live until 80 years old, you will leave behind a minimum of 14,400 plastic bottles on this planet. These bottles take hundreds of years to break down into tiny pieces of plastic, never to completely disappear. Most of the waste is consumed by fish and birds, which has shortened their lifespans greatly. If you live in a two story plastic bottle house of 100 square meters or 1,000 square feet per floor, then your house will be built reusing 14,000 plastic bottles,” reads Plastic Bottle Village’s official website. And they’re doing exactly that.
Led by Robert Bezeau, the project aims to create 120 homes from discarded plastic bottles on 83 acres of land in Panama’s Boco del Drago. With a prototype single-story, two bedroom home already constructed, the initiative claims that their method of construction creates homes that are eco-friendly and disaster resilient. As the air trapped in empty bottles acts like a natural insulator, Plastic Bottle Village has recorded temperatures up to 17 degrees Celsius (35 degrees Fahrenheit) less than outdoor temperature inside its prototype, limiting the need for air conditioning and electric fans in the eco-village. Meanwhile, by suspending the bottles between mesh metal cages, the walls of the buildings retain flexibility – a necessary structural characteristic for earthquake resistance. Rather than cracking and falling, Plastic Bottle Village’s homes simply move slightly, absorbing the shock. Using PVC pipes to supplement the structure, a manual valve can be turned on to flood these very pipes with water should an electrical fire break out within the plastic bottle-lined walls. Finally, and in a worst case scenario, Bezaeu proposes that the walls of the homes can be used disassembled and used as floats in the event of a tsunami or drastic flooding.
“We will be living inside what we have consumed and thrown away, and will re-construct those materials into modern, stylish, and quality built residencies,” continues the website, and though the images of plastic bottle walls is striking, the final structures are coated in cement, so only those in the know will be aware of the waste between the walls. Plastic Bottle Village’s current crowdfunding campaign is seeking US $95,000 for capacity building as they work towards a fully-fledged residential community. “The Plastic Bottle Village’s goal is to create an education center that will train individuals how to make a building system that reuses plastic bottles as construction materials. The funds will be used to secure land, build infrastructures such as dormitories, cafeteria, training center, tools, equipment, and inland transportation,” reads the GoFundMe page.
*Never miss a story like this - subscribe to our weekly highlights and stay up-to-date