Recycling: Plastic Bottles turned into Houses in Nigeria

An environmental project is recycling plastic bottles into houses in Nigeria. The system was pioneered by German environmentalist Andreas Froese, and similar schemes are springing up globally

One pilot house has been constructed in Kaduna, Nigeria in which plastic bottles were filled with sand and stuck together using mud rather than cement.  The process is designed to withstand severe environmental conditions.

The Project

A report in Vanguard Nigeria describes the project:

Katrim Macmillam launched Nigeria’s bottle recycling programme in December 2010. This is a programme in which plastic bottles and their lids are collected from hotels, restaurants, homes and offices.

According to Yahaya Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer, Development Association for Renewable Energies (DARE), “We set out to build energy-autonomous houses from recycled materials. In order to facilitate the project, Andres Froesse, founder of Eco-Tec Soluciones Ambientales, was sent to Nigeria to train local masons in the bottle building technique”.

Chris Vassilou, the Project Manager, donated the first land for the bottle house build. Features in the bottle house include solar powered with fuel-sufficient clean cookstove, urine filtration fertilization systems and water purification tanks, thereby, making it energy autonomous. Currently, school children are being trained in the bottle brick-making technique. The newly trained masons will lead the build by January 2012 in the next Nigerian bottle project, which will be a school hall in Suleja, at an African school which urgently needs classroom space.

The Bottle-house pioneers

Bottle House technology has attracted pioneers who are believers in the potential of the process for environmental reasons. One such group includes environmentalist AmenZen who writes:

In my quest for alternatives that would allow me to recycle all trash and feel good about it, since 2003, I encountered the Portable Landfill Device [the bottle brick idea] and mentioned it on my website.

My friend Pato told me about bottle-bricks stuffed with plastic that he saw in his trip to the call of the condor in Perú by 2005 when we lived in Gratamira Ecovillage in Medellín, Colombia.
Then I saw the work of the Colombian Parmaculturist Daniel Jaramillo and Sara in their project Colombia Sostenible building a composting toilet unit with bottle brick walls in an island in the Colombian Caribbean. I also tested the idea when I went Santa Cruz del Islote, in the Caribbean, to help in a Health Brigade and to do a shore, underwater and town cleanup.

There was no garbage trucks to pick it up litter and  I didn´t have any trash bags. Empty plastic bottles were everywhere. With the help of the children and later meetings with the elders, the idea seemed to be worth trying.

A few years back I had seen the work of Andreas Froesse building incredible structures in a park with bottle bricks filled with sand or urbanite in Honduras. I lost track of him until he came to Colombia to teach and build a bathing pool for a hotel with sand- filled bottle bricks in 2005. I asked him if he would consider building with the bottlebricks filled with trash, and from them on we have been experimenting with the technique of reducing landfill waste and
using it for building.

Servant Leadership?

The innovative vision of Andreas Froesse seems to be developing momentum. Other pioneers seem to capture the altruistic spirit of servant leadership.  However, critics will suggest that the scheme is self-limiting, and dependent on the environmentally-unfriendly technology involved in the manufacture of PET plastic bottle. The schemes will require further creative leadership to achieve the dreams of the visionaries.


Image is from Solar Feeds

To go more deeply

See also
Sam Olukoya’s BBC report on the bottle Houses of Nigeria

World Architecture News

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