There's an article in the August 5 Plastics News, a trade publication for the plastics industry, about recycling plastic into building blocks for schools.
For some reason, certain plastics are hard to recycle, and it's hard to use mixed combinations of plastics, but the company Conceptos Plasticos has figured out how to do it. There are three recycled plastic schools in Colombia as of now, and plans for twelve more by the end of the year.
At the end of July, the company teamed up with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to build a factory in Ivory Coast to make the plastic bricks for local use. In the meantime, nine classrooms have already been built in Ivory Coast from the Colombian bricks. During the next two years, they expect that the local factory will turn out bricks for another 500 classrooms.
The plastic bricks look sort of like Legos, with a tongue-and-groove shape, and don't need any adhesive to stay together. They contain 70-80 percent of recycled plastic, plus some proprietary ingredients.
In the Ivory coast area, there is an estimated 280 tons of plastic waste every day, and only five percent of that is now being recycled. The typical school built in Colombia used about 8800 pounds of waste plastic; so it's not the total solution.
But it is a win-win-win situation for all involved: local women will be paid to collect the waste plastic, generating some additional income; there will be less waste on the ground and in waterways; and there will be more classrooms for children.
It sounds good to me -- kudos to UNICEF and Conceptos Plasticos! This is the kind of innovation we need to solve many of our environmental problems.