Despite all of our recycling programs, the planet is still overrun with plastic, piled up in landfills and swimming in our seas. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, only 9.5 percent of plastic is actually recycled, and the rest is simply tossed away. Some types of plastic take up to 1,000 years to decompose while their toxins leak into the soil and water. And about 10 to 20 million tons of plastic make their way into the ocean.
Disturbing cases like the endangered whale that washed ashore with a spoon in his digestive tract, the cobra that spat up an entire plastic bottle, and the squirrel that needed to be extracted from a plastic cup all testify to the fact that we need to remedy our plastic pollution problem now.
EcoDomum (“Eco House”) in Puebla, Mexico has a brilliant solution to the pandemic plastic catastrophe. The company is recycling everything from soda bottles to toys into building material for houses. The company, founded by Carlos Daniel Gonzalez, is a startup working with local trash collectors to relieve them of their plastic waste. Gonzalez’s objective is to convert the plastic into usable building materials to make affordable housing while improving Mexico’s economy.
The Borgen Project found that half of the population of Mexico lives in poverty, and about 10 percent of people live in extreme poverty. EcoDomum provides both jobs and accessible housing while making the plastic disappear.
Plastic makes an ideal building material because it’s light and practically indestructible.
EcoDomum’s process of turning plastic waste into house panels involves sorting, cutting, extreme baking, and molding. Plastics that do not emit toxic fumes when melted are chopped up in a machine. The pieces are heated at over 600 degrees for around 30 minutes. The molten liquid is then sent through a hydraulic press that crystalizes and compresses it into durable, affordable, and hermetically-sealed panels.
EcoDomum produces 120 panels each day in their plant, thus transforming 5.5 tons of plastic waste into building materials daily. Eighty panels are needed to build one house, and constructing a modest home takes approximately one week. They have built over 500 recycled plastic homes of 430 to 460 square feet each, complete with a living room, two bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom, for a price of a little less than $300.
As EcoDonum expands, more plastic waste will be converted into building materials and more people will be able to afford housing. Perhaps other companies around the globe will utilize this process and the building industry will help swallow up plastic pollution.