Plastic. We know it's not good for the environment, but it's almost impossible to escape it. Even as we take steps to reduce the amount of plastic that we use, millions of pounds of plastic end up in landfills worldwide every year. Now, a company has found a unique use for some of that plastic, and there is a chance that it could solve another major problem facing the world--a lack of affordable housing.
EcoDomum is a startup business that creates a building material out of plastic waste. To create the material, the company seeks out used plastic waste from different sources. The plastic items are carefully inspected to select items that will not give off harmful fumes when they are melted. Items like soda bottles and children's toys are among some of the most frequently used plastics.
image source: http://www.ecodomum.mx
Once the plastics have been selected, they are melted in an oven that reaches a temperature of over 600 degrees Fahrenheit. It takes about 30 minutes for the plastic to complete liquefy, at which point it is put through a hydraulic press that flattens the plastic into panels. These sturdy panels measures 8 feet in length by 4 feet in width by 1 inch in thickness, and EcoDomum can make 120 of them every day. One day's production uses 5.5 tons of plastic waste.
With only 80 panels, EcoDomum's building materials can be used to build one house. The company has partnered with a subsidized housing program in Mexico to build houses for impoverished families. In some cases, families are able to receive a brand new 430 square foot house by paying only around $280.
The prospects of what EcoDomum's building material could mean both for the planet and for society are amazing. Hopefully, the start-up will take off and be able to increase production to begin helping families elsewhere in the near future.