Clean and green: New use for old plastic

There is growing concern about the effect of plastic waste on the environment recognising the urgent need to reduce our plastic consumption. Build It has been re-using unwanted plastic bottles and turning them into useful building material.

Used polyethylene terephthalate (PET) drinks bottle have been filled with earth and used in the construction of a retaining wall at our new training centre in Lusaka.

Measuring 1.2m high and 28m long the bottles are essentially buried in our wall and will take around 500 years to decompose. Concrete blocks would have traditionally been used to construct the wall so using existing bottles has reduced the financial and environmental costs of producing new blocks.

Plastic bottles have also been used to light up the new toilet block on site. Clean bottles are filled with water, plus a little bleach to prevent the water from turning green with algae before being placed in the roof.

Originally developed by Brazilian engineer Alfredo Moser, sunlight is refracted through the water in the bottle to light up a room during the day.

Yellow caps have been used on the bottles which feature solar panels on the back, a small battery inside and a torch on the front. Originally designed for use as a hand held torch, we have adapted them to help provide light for a few hours in the evening.

Build It always carefully considers the environmental impact and energy costs of all our projects. We use local building materials, sustainable technologies and improved designs that are appropriate to the local community.