‘Why we’re re­cy­cling plas­tic bot­tles into houses’

Weekly Trust - - News - Haf­sah Abubakar Matazu

Along the road lead­ing to the Idu Train Sta­tion in Abuja are a few com­mu­ni­ties. Lo­cated at one of them, Paipe to be pre­cise, is a house un­der con­struc­tion, with unique ma­te­ri­als: plas­tic bot­tles. Daily Trust vis­ited, and within the build­ing was the site en­gi­neer, Chi­dozie Lawrence Ut­tamx, who ex­pressed hope that plas­tic bot­tle houses will catch on, not just in the ru­ral ar­eas, but cities too. “I hopes it be­comes an en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly al­ter­na­tive to homes made of ce­ment blocks soon enough,” he said.

From Ut­tamx’s ex­pla­na­tion, the plas­tic bot­tle houses have the po­ten­tial of be­com­ing a sus­tain­able con­struc­tion op­tion and with about two thirds of con­struc­tion costs cut. “Used plas­tic bot­tles lit­ter ev­ery­where. In a coun­try of al­most 200 mil­lion peo­ple who con­sume bot­tled wa­ter and soft drinks daily, this may well be one of the coun­try’s in­no­va­tive ways of waste man­age­ment and re­cy­cling,” he told Daily Trust.

“Any­one who can build a house with mud can af­ford to build a house with plas­tic bot­tles, since they are ac­ces­si­ble,” Ut­tamx said. He added that the build­ing tech­nique is, while rel­a­tively sim­ple, in­volves a de­mand­ing process. A one-bed­room ver­sion, like the one Daily Trust vis­ited, re­quires about 10,000 plas­tic bot­tles sourced from ei­ther a man who gath­ers the bot­tles for a fee, or scav­enged from rivers, or open drainages, as the bot­tles gather at the banks, some­times in large quan­ti­ties.

Af­ter­ward ac­qui­si­tion, the bot­tles are as­sem­bled, packed full of sand and then lay­ered in rows and bound to­gether with string. This forms a base that is bound to­gether with ei­ther mud or ce­ment. The house is there­after roofed with zinc, and then the win­dows and doors fit­ted.

Ut­tamx said the con­struc­tion pe­riod takes about a month. “Which isn’t much, re­ally. As long as we have bot­tles, we’re good to go. We would have fin­ished in less time than that, but be­cause of the rain, we had a few hin­drances.”

Ut­tamx re­vealed plans to build more in the com­mu­nity. “This is the only one for now. It’s the pro­to­type, but so many peo­ple have shown in­ter­est. Right here in Paipe, we are go­ing to build a 3-bed­room house. We will be giv­ing the houses we’ve built to them be­cause they leased the land to us. Presently, we are gath­er­ing the bot­tles to make the next set of houses and in two weeks, we al­ready have 40,000 plas­tic bot­tles out of the 60,000 we need.”

Ut­tamx pointed out that the houses can with­stand the ef­fects of weather just fine. A fu­ture of plas­tic bot­tle houses seems re­al­is­tic in their minds, and there seems to be no rea­son to dis­agree as the houses have proven to be as sturdy as the more main­stream ce­ment ones.

On plans to ex­pand the plas­tic bot­tle house project, Ut­tamx spoke more: “We are in dis­cus­sions with a ma­jor es­tate de­vel­oper who plans to build an es­tate of 200 plas­tic bot­tle houses, to sell and lease at af­ford­able prices.” A step higher on sus­tain­abil­ity on en­vi­ron­ment-friend­li­ness, the plas­tic bot­tle houses are also com­pletely re­liant on nat­u­ral en­ergy, as they are sup­plied by so­lar pan­els, with wa­ter pumped from a nearby stream. This, Ut­tamx says, is ideal for low-in­come earn­ers, the tar­gets of the project in the first in­stance.

“In Nige­ria today, this may be one of the few forms of re­cy­cling. We are us­ing waste prod­ucts to pro­vide af­ford­able hous­ing. It’s a way to make life eas­ier for ev­ery­one,” Ut­tamx smiled.

Any­one who can build a house with mud can af­ford to build a house with plas­tic bot­tles

Un­der con­struc­tion: Near­ing com­ple­tion, is Ut­tamx’s plas­tic bot­tle house.

Chigozie Ut­tamx: “Plas­tic bot­tle houses pro­vide cheap, sus­tain­able so­lu­tions to hous­ing.”

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