Solar Power and Plastic Bottles Come Together on Sustainable Buildings in Africa

by Antonio Pasolini on August 16, 2011

Photo: Katrin Macmillan

Plastic bottles – they are an environmental disaster. They seem to be everywhere and although they have become, alongside plastic bags, much-maligned icons of mindless consumerism, they still are ubiquitous.

But some organizations in Africa have decided to give them a better destination than the recycling plant and built a house with it. In Kaduna State, Nigeria, to be precise.

The plastic bottles were filled with earth and mud and the builders say the three-room structure is so sturdy it could stand for thousands of years.

What’s better, the bottle house will run on solar power, features a fuel-efficient clean stove, urine filtration fertilization systems and water purification tanks, which makes it pretty much a self-sufficient building.

Photo: Katrin Macmillan

The bottle house is a result of the work initiated by Katrin Macmillan, who launched Nigeria’s bottle recycling program in December 2010. The program gets the bottles from hotels, restaurants, homes and embassies and has rid the environment from thousands of bottles.

The project counted on collaborations from Yahaya Ahmed, CEO of Development Association for Renewable Energies (DARE); Andres Froesse, founder of Eco-Tec Soluciones Ambientales (Honduras), who went to Nigeria to train local masons in the bottle building technique; engineer Chris Vassilou, who donated the land.

There are other bottle buildings in the pipeline. The next Nigerian bottle building project is a school hall in Seluja at the Africa School of Excellence, which urgently needs classroom space.

The school children are being trained in the bottle brick making technique and the newly trained masons will lead the build in January 2012.

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