Plastic was supposed to save us, but instead it’s threatened our environment, polluted our waterways, and endangered many of the world’s animals. Despite recycling programs in many parts of the world, an enormous amount of plastic waste escapes collection and winds up in landfills. A Mexico-based startup, Eco Domum (“eco house”), is recovering much of that plastic trash and recycling it into building materials, which are then used to create affordable housing for some of the country’s low-income families.

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The plastic trash, which is comprised of everything from soda bottles to plastic toys, is transformed into wall and roof panels that become low-cost homes thanks to subsidies from a housing program. Under the program, families are required to pay just 5,000 pesos (around $280) for a 430-square-foot home. Eco Domum’s plant churns out 120 recycled plastic panels a day, each measuring eight-feet-long and four-feet-wide with a thickness of one inch. At that rate, the company recycles approximately 5.5 tons of plastic waste in one day. One of the low-cost homes uses around 80 of the plastic panels and takes about a week to construct.

Related: New report says plastic trash to exceed fish in the sea by 2050

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Eco Domum has already constructed over 500 recycled plastic homes throughout Mexico, and the company has partnered with local trash collectors to ensure a constant supply of raw materials. By pledging a higher wage for plastic salvagers while providing much-needed affordable housing, the startup hopes to stimulate Mexico’s economy with a sustainable industry. With plans to expand their operation to reach more cities this year, Eco Domum has found a welcome niche to address two of the country’s most challenging problems.

Via Treehugger

Images via Eco Domum