Colombian company Conceptos Plásticos saw two pressing issues in the world and decided to tackle both with recycled building materials. One issue is the housing crisis, prevalent in Latin America where 80 percent of the population now resides in urban areas. The second is the overwhelming amount of plastic crowding landfills. To combat these issues, Conceptos Plásticos recycles plastic into LEGO-like building blocks that families can use to easily construct their own homes.
Conceptos Plásticos works with local communities to source plastic and rubber and train locals on the building process. With the building blocks, locals can build their own houses, emergency shelters, community halls, and classrooms. A home for one family will take four people five days to construct with the recycled building blocks – and there’s no construction experience necessary. The blocks fit together like LEGOs.
Not only are the pieces easy to work with, they’ll resist natural disasters as well. Conceptos Plásticos puts an additive that makes the product fire-resistant, and since the blocks are made of plastic, they’ll also resist earthquakes. The company reports their “construction system is 30 percent cheaper” than systems traditionally utilized in rural areas. A standard home can be constructed for just $5,200.
The plastic building blocks will degrade around 500 years or more down the road, but for now they offer shelters for families who can’t afford other housing or are fleeing crises.
The plastic building blocks have already helped people. In 2015, 42 families were “displaced by violence” in Colombia, and Conceptos Plásticos helped build a hostel for the families that could easily be torn down and rebuilt elsewhere if they ever had to move again.
Mendez told Forbes, “We hope to create a movement where more and more people get involved. We want to develop new products that make better use of the thousands and thousands of tons of plastic that is discarded. There will soon be more plastic in the sea than fish, so we really need to do something big.” Conceptos Plásticos recently won $300,000 in a competition called The Venture.
Images via Conceptos Plásticos Facebook