Pollution Solutions – Turning a Liability into an Asset
Innovation Stations is the term we use to describe the articles we write on innovation – whether it’s a breath taking new skyscraper that’s taking the world by storm, a new type of construction technique or a progressive new construction material, we like to make sure that our readers are kept up to date on what’s going on at the cutting edge of construction, both here in the UK and overseas. Today we’ve come across an innovative way of turning a problem in one sector into a solution in another – a Pollution Solution, if you like. This is why we’re starting a whole new sub-section of our Innovation Stations and calling it Pollution Solutions.
With plastic pollution becoming an ever increasing problem on our planet, it’s difficult to find ways of effectively addressing the situation. However much any of us refuse, reuse and recycle, the majority of the population don’t seem willing to make the effort necessary to make a difference. I personally carry reusable shopping bags, I have a stainless steel straw, a steel water flask and I refuse plastic packaging as much as possible. I am the person who once arrived home with smashed eggs in both coat pockets rather than have a plastic egg box! The plastic pollution problem needs to be tackled in a huge way in order to make any headway at all and that’s what a start up in Mexico is doing right now.
Eco Dom (Eco House) is gathering up discarded plastic waste and recycling it into building materials which are used to create affordable homes for some of Mexico’s lowest income families. Plastic waste from objects as diverse as bottles, toys and packaging is transformed into wall and roof panels in Eco Dom’s factory which churns out 120 recycled plastic panels every day. This rate ensures that a massive 5.5 tons of plastic waste is recycled per day. One low cost home (around 430 square foot) takes around 80 of these plastic panels to build and families need to pay only 5000 pesos (less than £200) per house.
The process for turning plastic waste into house panels involves sorting, cutting, extreme baking and moulding. Plastics which do not generate toxic fumes when melted and chopped by machine and then the pieces are heated at more than 600° for 30 minutes – the molten plastic is then passed through a hydraulic press that compresses and crystallise it into durable, hermetically sealed construction panels.
More than 500 plastic homes have been built to date, each featuring a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom. As Eco Domum grows as a company, it’s hoped that more and more waste will be converted into building materials in this way, leading to more people being able to afford a home. It’s hoped that more companies like Eco Domum will open up in other countries, particularly in developing nations where the need for low cost housing is most pressing.
The positive news is that plastic is, hopefully, evolving from being a problem as it pollutes our planet into a solution to the growing housing crisis – a win-win situation for mankind and the world in which we live.