The bottle bricks taking on Nigeria’s housing and environmental crises

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Plastic bottles filled with sand and mud are serving as a fantastic and eco-friendly alternative to traditional bricks and concrete materials in Nigeria.

What comes to mind when you think of the materials used for constructing a home? Concrete, steel, aluminium, rocks? Yes, most modern-day buildings stand upright due to these materials. Yes, it’s important to use correct and sturdy materials to construct buildings. But at what cost?

Concrete, one of the most popular construction materials worldwide, is “the most destructive material on Earth”, according to the Guardian. The burden of destruction isn’t just limited to concrete but all the other popularly used building materials.

So, how can this be addressed? Putting an end to construction simply isn’t realistic. Nigeria is doing its part to address this environmental epidemic by constructing with plastic bottles.

Plastic is being used to protect our environment from further degradation. Nigerians are using bottle brick technology instead of regular construction materials to build houses.

Read our story on how Covid-19 created a plastic pandemic.

plastic bottle housesBottle brick technology uses plastic bottles filled with materials including everything from plastic wrappers and landfill trash to other inorganic waste to create a brick. Bottle bricks is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional bricks. They are durable and used to construct many types of buildings.

According to the BBC, the first plastic house in Nigeria was constructed in the village of Yelwa, where a different variant of bottle brick technology was used. The bottles were filled with sand instead of trash and inorganic waste.

Yahaya Ahmed, construction engineer and member of Nigeria’s Development Association for Renewable Energies, told the BBC that compacted sand inside a bottle is nearly 20 times stronger than bricks. He further estimated that a bottle brick house “will cost one-third of what a similar house made of concrete and bricks would cost”.

The plastic house in Yelwa is shaped in the form of a circle and consists of approximately 7,800 bottles. The sand-filled bottles are then placed on top of one another and then glued using mud. It’s this high number of bottles that are used to build one bedroom, one drawing room, one kitchen, and one bathroom.

This bottle brick technology in Nigeria didn’t just pause after one house in Yelwa. Today, Nigeria is tackling its plastic crisis by using discarded plastic bottles to build affordable housing for its citizens.

German firm Ecotec Environmental Solutions is working with the Nigerian NGO, the Development Association for Renewable Energies, to expand the bottle technology project across the country. Ecotec is training people in Nigeria to use their abundant plastic bottle waste to build durable and secure homes in the country.

ecobricksNigeria’s plastic bottle houses brilliantly tackle a multitude of crises the country faces. According to the Homeless World Cup Foundation, there are at least 24.4 million homeless people in Nigeria. In addition, due to the high poverty rates of the country, a massive number of Nigerians reside in homes made of unstable and unsafe materials.

The brick bottle houses are sustainable, environmentally friendly, cheap, and, most importantly, durable and safe. They’re a great answer to the country’s housing crisis. Besides, Nigeria generates an estimated 32 million tons of solid waste per year, and plastic constitutes a whopping 2.5 million of that figure. So, there’s no doubt that currently, the country has plenty of raw product supply.

In addition to addressing the housing crisis of the country, the brick bottle technology also tackles the youth unemployment crisis. The project is providing jobs to the unemployed youths of Nigeria and training them in green construction.

The bottle brick technology isn’t just limited to Nigeria but can be found across many other countries. Ahmed has cited his inspirations behind building brick bottle technology houses in Nigeria to the plastic houses in Honduras. The durability of a house is reflected by its ability to withstand an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 in Honduras.

The brick bottle technology, along with positively affecting Nigeria’s development, can be a blessing for the rest of the world if it’s implemented on large-scale construction. So, why not move forward and use Earth’s deadly enemy to save it?