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New technology to help make houses affordable

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
Plastic bottle house under construction
Plastic bottle house under construction

Do you know that you can be part of an innovative construction project by not throwing away your plastic bottle after a refreshing cool drink?There is an effective way of reusing the bottles; you can build with them.

In a country where people do not have so much to spend on building materials, promoters of plastic bottles for building say that such houses made from plastic are estimated to cost just about one-third of a ‘normal’ house built with concrete and bricks.

 The Founder of Toahouse Company Limited, Mr Paul Coffie Bebobru,  told the Daily Graphic in an interview that using plastic bottles to construct a house was as strong as a brick house and could help individuals save money.

“As a country, we are grappling with the problem of solid waste, especially safe disposal of plastic waste. Building houses with plastic bottles is an innovation targeted at providing affordable houses and also contributing to a clean environment,” he said.

Toahouse…The green impact

Mr Bebobru said he established the company out of curiosity and research about improved sanitation. 

“Realising the difficulty in getting employment after school, I thought through to come out with something. I also acquired much of the plastic housing technique in Kenya and when I returned, I got few people to buy into the idea,” he said.

Among the projects Toahouse is undertaking currently include a warehouse for Booomers International Limited (makers of bamboo bicycles) at Jamasi in the Ashanti Region, and an innovation hub for the West Africa Senior High School.

Challenges

Mr Bebobru said the journey so far had not been easy with their major challenge being perception.

“We need much talking to get people to accept the idea and once the attitude is changed we will get there.  A lot more people are getting curious about the different ways of building, especially looking at the cost factor,” he said.

He said the company was also training artisans in the technology and would be deployed to other regions to do a trainer of trainers. 

Subsequently, Toahouse is expecting investors to come on board. It has launched a campaign dubbed “10,000 bottle challenge” to raise 10,000 bottles with some giveaways.

“We hope it would provide another stream of income to individuals and also get our streets clean,” he said.

Construction process

The disposable plastic bottles, ideally, should be of uniform sizes, and filled with sieved sand to make it fine and compact, and the bottles sealed with the corks.

They are then laid as bricks and then stringed diagonally to get a firm holding.

The gaps in-between the bottles are then filled with mortar. The foundation is left for a few hours so that the cement will solidify. Building can start after the foundation after all pillars have been made.

Features of a plastic bottle house

Experts say plastic bottle, as a construction material, is cost-effective, not brittle and easy to use.

It is estimated that a plastic bottle can take approximately 300 years to decompose.

A small house can use as many as 10,000 bottles, waste, that would otherwise have been deposited in a landfill or scattered.

The construction process is work intensive and this means it would create opportunities for employment in developing countries such as Ghana; from the collection stage, to filling and building.

Attempts to curb plastic waste

So far, no metropolitan, municipal and district assembly in Ghana has been able to deal with the menace of plastic waste.

There have been attempts to ban manufacturing, impose taxes and ban use of plastics in the absence of nationally instituted waste management programme.

In recent times, some individuals and organisations have tried to earn money by gathering used plastic bottles to recycle or use them for other products.