These houses are built with blocks made from waste plastic

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These houses are built with blocks made from waste plastic

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These houses are built with blocks made from waste plastic

In Bogota, 700 tons of plastic is discarded daily, with only 100 tons of that recycled. But that’s all beginning to change, thanks to the work of architect Oscar Mendez. His company, Conceptos Plásticos transforms plastic and rubber waste into a construction material, and uses it to build houses for those who need it, across Colombia.

Oscar and his colleagues Henry Cañon and Isabel Cristina started out with an aim of reducing the environmental impact of plastic by reusing it in construction. Once they were joined by Fernando Llanos (and later, Jesus Mendez) Conceptos Plásticos was born, and they’ve gone from strength to strength since. The company aims to tackle two problems: one, the growing mountain of plastic in landfills; and two, booming populations in cities across Latin America. To be honest, it’s tough to say which could have the most serious implications for the environment.

A recent report from TECHO showed that a staggering 80% of Latin America’s population now live in cities. And a report launched at the World Economic Forum in January said that around 309 million tons of plastic was manufactured in 2014. Neither of these is the sole concern of one country though; as Oscar told me himself, “Plastic is a problem everywhere, and people will always need a roof over their head.” So how do they turn a waste product into a construction material? […]

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