Plastic waste used to build classrooms in the Ivory Coast

Plastic bricks developed by a Colombian social enterprise are being used to build schools for children in the West African nation of Ivory Coast.

Nine classrooms have already been set up in Ivory Coast by Conceptos Plásticos in partnership with UNICEF at three sites across the country. Built with bricks made from plastic salvaged from streets in Columbia, experts hope the environmentally friendly new technique will also provide more stable incomes for plastic waste collectors.

Five tonnes of plastic bricks are required to build a classroom. The interlocking bricks – cheaper and lighter than many conventional building materials – require no cement, are fire retardant and stay cool in hot weather.

While the initial three school sites were built using plastic imported from Columbia, Conceptos Plásticos is building a plastic brick factory in Yopougon, a suburb of Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, which will supply the plastic bricks required for further classrooms being built in the Ivory Coast moving forward.

Abidjan alone churns out 300 tonnes of plastic waste a day, of which only around five percent is currently recycled. Local women, known as “The Fighting Women”, who make a living collecting plastic waste from city streets will supply the factory in Abidjan.

Isabel Cristina Gamez, CEO of Conceptos Plasticos, the plastic recycling company building the factory.”By turning plastic pollution into an opportunity, we want to help lift women out of poverty and leave a better world for children.”

The factory in Ivory Coast will be the first of its kind in Africa and aims to produce enough plastic bricks to build 500 classrooms across the country by 2021. It is understood that using the plastic brick technique is approximately a third cheaper than conventional construction.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

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