T-shirts, sweaters, denim pants, park benches and now a house – such is the use of recycled plastic in today’s world. The latest creation made from recycled plastic is a house that stands in Karnataka’s Mangaluru city. Made from the remains of tetra packs and gutka packets, it was built by Plastic For Change, a for-profit organisation that partners with local NGOs to provide waste pickers with a stable income and better opportunities.
“Our aim is to convert recycled plastic waste into building materials that can be used to build low cost shelters for the vulnerable in society,” chief impact officer of the Plastics for Change India Foundation, Shifrah Jacobs tells The Better India.
The organisation collects the plastic from the waste pickers and different communities, and incentivises them with “fair and timely payments” Their mission is to formalise the informal plastics recycling sector and provide a holistic intervention program for one of its key, yet most vulnerable, stakeholders — informal waste workers.
“Our first eco-friendly recycled house was built for a woman at Pachanady in Mangaluru. The house cost Rs 4.5 lakh to be built for a 350-square-metre area,” she says and adds, “We believe that one organisation cannot meet every requirement while building homes so we tied up with a Hyderabad-based construction partner, Bamboo Projects.”
Prashant Lingam, founder Bamboo Projects says, “We mainly construct bamboo houses and according to other requirements we make other houses. Plastics For Change India Foundation contacted us for plastic houses with a bulk supply of plastic. So, it was easy to construct the houses. All the houses constructed here are portable too.”
He adds that it took a maximum of 10 days to construct these plastic houses. “Both bamboo and plastic houses give the same cooling effect. When we produce plastic boards, all the precautions are taken to ensure the house does not heat up,” Prashant says, adding that they haven’t used a formal detection slab, sanctioned by a government body to measure the heating up potential of a house, but “it’s all internal analysis”.
Shifrah shares that the construction cost of the house can be reduced to upto Rs 3.5 lakh. “We are planning to build 100 similar houses in the next two years with a lower budget,” she says.
“During these difficult times, we really have to innovate through disruptive solutions to make
a meaningful impact in communities. We believe technology can be used for good and we
are so pleased to use it for positive impact by converting low value plastic waste into homes
and bringing access to online education for communities in Mangaluru. We’re grateful to all
our partners and community members who’ve trusted us to enable these solutions,” she adds.
This first recycled plastic house has a large living room, storage room, bathroom, kitchen, patio. Almost 1,500 kilograms of plastic is also used for the making of this home. “The foundation of the house is made of cement while some steel structures are also used and the tiling is done with the regular tiles of ceramic, granite or marble. The roof and the walls are made of plastic comprising low-density plastic (LDP) and multi-layered plastic (MLP),” says Shifrah.
The organisation is building houses for those who own land. “We had also conducted the durability test of the construction material before building the house. With plastic, we can also construct toilets at a very low cost,” says Shifrah.
Appreciating their efforts, Joseph Hoover, convener of the United Conservation Movement, says, “It is very interesting to see a house made of recycled plastic at such a low cost. I really appreciate the Plastics For Change India Foundation for such an innovative idea.”
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)