Using Plastic to Solve Global Housing Shortages

There are two major global crises happening concurrently. The first is a housing shortage; supply chain problems, population growth, and shifts in where people live have led to skyrocketing housing prices and record numbers of homeless people around the world. The second issue is pollution and global warming, and concerns about single-use plastics are growing. While single-use plastics are necessary, there's an overload of trash in our landfills and waterways. Fortunately, innovative organizations are seeking to solve these two problems, and our injection molding company is looking at how plastics are solving the housing crisis.

Building Bottle Walls in Nigeria

With nearly 25 million unhoused people in Nigeria and more living in unsafe dwellings, the need for housing is great. Using the bottle wall technique developed by Ecotec Environmental Solutions, the Development Association for Renewable Energies is showing people how to use empty plastic bottles to build homes. Plastic bottles are collected, filled with sand, and stacked side-by-side. Between each layer, mud or cement is spread with more bottles stacked to create a wall. Using 14,000 bottles to create a two-bedroom home with a living room, kitchen, and bathroom, the structure is:

  • Fire-resistant
  • Bulletproof
  • Earthquake-proof
  • 20 times stronger than traditional brick.

While Nigeria is leading this particular initiative, Ecotec Environmental Solutions and other companies are moving it to Brazil, Algeria, and Honduras.

Recycling Plastic into Building Materials in Columbia

In Columbia, plastic bottles and other trash are finding new life as building materials, though much differently than what is happening in Nigeria. This initiative, launched by Conceptos Plasticos, encourages people to collect plastic trash and rubber where it's sent to a factory and processed with additives, melted, and pressed into blocks and beams. The blocks and beams are used similarly to Lego blocks, empowering people to easily construct modest homes quickly. In fact, a modest, two-bedroom home's exterior and interior walls, roof, and foundation can be completed in five days by four people for just $5,200.

These houses are fire-resistant, earthquake-proof, and low maintenance. The initiative is looking at going global with material production factories planned in Nairobi, Kenya, Dakar, and Senegal.

3D Printing Modular Homes in California

In the United States, nowhere is the housing crisis worse than California. Building materials are incredibly expensive, workers are scarce, and the overall cost of an "affordable" home is over $500,000. Mighty Buildings, an Oakland startup, is combining powerful 3D printing with a proprietary thermoset material to literally print modular homes.

Even though they began development in 2017, they raised significant funds and investments in 2020 and 2021, allowing them to ramp up production and make sensible shifts in assembly. Right now, they are shipped from Oakland fully finished and ready to move in, but they are hoping to shift to a panel system that will require on-site assembly but eliminate the expensive cranes needed for installation.

The goal for Mighty Buildings? Creating neighborhoods and developments that allow middle-income earners to get their foot in the door of homeownership while providing a building process with little to zero waste.

Contact Us for Custom Plastics

If you're in need of custom plastics for construction, automobile manufacturing, or a variety of other uses, we can help. We offer injection molding and thermoforming services with short lead times and low per-unit pricing without compromising the quality you're looking for.  We work with companies throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states, including North CarolinaSouth Carolina, Pennsylvania, MarylandTennessee, Georgia, and Virginia.

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