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The Houses That PET Plastic Built

By Sebrina Zerkus Smith |
Eco-minded architects and designers are making treasure out of trash by recycling used PET bottles into beautiful, sustainable, buildings.

Eco-minded architects and designers are making treasure out of trash by recycling used PET bottles into beautiful, sustainable, buildings.

One of the wonderful things about being recycle-minded is that every piece of trash is an opportunity to recreate something wonderful. At least, that’s the way I felt when I saw testaments to the miracle of recycling — houses, cisterns, furniture, bus stops and even entire schools — made from recycled PET plastic bottles.

Eco-tec, an award-winning Honduran company, has used recycled PET plastic bottles for construction of houses, water tanks, and even schools.

Using some 8,000 PET recycled bottles, Eco-Tec created the “casa ecológica” or ecological house, as a means of providing sustainable construction methods and employment in Honduras.

170% of the structures built by Eco-Tec are made up of recycled PET bottles reclaimed from landfills and local clean-up projects. The bottles are filled with sand and sealed before construction use.

Each casa ecologica has a “living roof” made from sod and turf which insulates the house better than a conventional roof. And although the roof weighs in at 30 metric tons when wet, the PET bottle walls to support the weight without effort.

Eco-Tec has gone beyond the experimental stages, and has tactually built over a dozen homes and community centers from PET bottles.

It took Tomislav Radovanovic five years and 13,500 plastic bottles to build the 60 sq meter house in Kragujevac, Serbia.

Only the foundation of the property is concrete, and all other parts of the house are made of plastic bottles that Radovanovic collected over many years. Even the kitchen furniture and windows are made of plastic bottles.

This house can be found at Puerto Iguazu, a frontier town on the border between Argentina and Brazil. This amazing house, made by Alfredo Santa Cruz and his family, is constructed entirely from recycled materials. Over 1200 recycled PET bottles, 1300 Tetra Pak cartons, 140 CD cases which are used as doors and windows, and an additional 340 plastic bottles that have been recycled into couches and a bed. Mr. Santa Cruz and family now spend their time teaching others how to use recyclables as building materials.

11"Domestic waste can be transformed into useful stuff. We developed our own technique, which allows people to build a house that's perfectly functional at a very low cost and with their own hands. This is not just a project, but a reality," says Santa Cruz.

This striking bright orange schoolhouse in Granados, Guatemala, is constructed primarily of reclaimed plastic bottles.

After noticing the amount of plastic trash littering Guatemalan streets and realizing that many schools did not even have walls, Peace Corps volunteer Laura Kutner decided to make a difference.

With help of local businesses and volunteers, Kutner began work on a school house made from recycled PET bottles.

Over 6,000 bottles were filled with plastic grocery bags, chip bags, and other waste, and were placed inside a metal fencing to create the structure. More trash was used to fill up the spaces between the fencing and the bottles.

Using recycled PET plastic bottles for construction offers an affordable, sustainable solution to the need for adequate building construction in developing countries. Wonder if America will ever catch on to this idea...

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  • Alrena A. 5 years ago
    Totally cool. My grandparents did this way back in the 60s with recycled beer cans in the basement of their house in Alaska. It eventually started caving in about 45yrs later.
  • kristie b. 5 years ago
    holy moly this is awsome! makes me want to build something lol
  • Kellie C. 5 years ago
    First, I think that this is a wonderful way to recycle, but I do have a case of fire are toxins released? I know homes for how ever many trumps a small percentage of fires, but the concern is still there.
  • Elaine F. 5 years ago
    Those are some pretty cool houses.
  • Serious L. 5 years ago
    On another note, regarding the article, I would appreciate more in-depth details about the construction using the PET bottles.. are the filled bottles adhered or mortared together with a specific material? Or are they simply stacked, relying on the weight of the filling to stabilize the stacking? What about deterioration over time? To my understanding, plastic does degrade in direct (UV) sunlight. Diagrams of construction techniques and/or more photo documentation during construction would be helpful.
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