Oscar Mendez, a Colombian architect and entrepreneur, came up with the idea of building houses for the homeless using recycled waste plastic.
In 2014, after 12 years of research, the owner of Conceptos Plasticos, a small waste recycling company, developed a brick made from all sorts of plastic packaging, an ideal material for building low-cost housing. To achieve this, he purchases plastic waste from "recyclers". The waste is then ground up and melted down. The mixture thus obtained, to which additives providing the bricks with good heat resistance are added, is then poured into moulds which are then immersed in cold water to create the thermal shock which will harden the bricks.
Building the shelters is an easy process: the bricks can be assembled like Lego bricks, by hand and without using adhesives. In fact, they are so easy to assemble that a 40 m² habitat can be built in five days with no prior knowledge of architecture or construction; ample enough reason to imagine this new type of building popping up everywhere.
Conceptos Plasticos currently have a recycling capacity of 100 tonnes of plastic per month, and aim to reach a rate of 300 tonnes per month, which would enable 50 shelters to be built every month. The company has planned to start building 600 houses per year to house over 3,000 individuals starting in 2018.