Plastics Make Perfect: A Social Entrepreneur's High-Quality, Low-Cost Housing Solution

Plastics Make Perfect: A Social Entrepreneur's High-Quality, Low-Cost Housing Solution

Oscar Andres Mendez Gerardino, 34
Initiative: Conceptos Plasticos
Country of impact: Colombia

In Latin America, Africa and Asia, 40% of people don’t have access to formal housing.

Another major issue in emerging markets: waste. In Bogota, Colombia, for example, 750 tonnes of plastic is sent to landfill every day. It can take up to 500 years for plastic to biodegrade and 75% of plastic produced globally is either sent to landfill or not formally disposed of—left to pollute the environment.

Providing a home

Founded by Oscar Andres Mendez Gerardino, 34, in 2010, Conceptos Plasticos is a Colombian enterprise that aims to replace informal settlements with decent housing whilst reducing waste plastic. Using an industrial process called extrusion, Conceptos Plasticos uses multilayered plastics, mixtures of different plastics and rubber to make quality construction materials. These construction materials are used to build low-cost, safe, durable housing that can be broken down and rebuilt elsewhere if necessary.

Building decent homes from waste plastic

It takes five days for a team of four to assemble a house of 40 square metres. Conceptos Plasticos have built nearly 1,500 square metres of houses and shelters in several regions across Colombia and are currently obtaining permits for construction of another 500 square metres in the city of Cartagena. They have used more than 300 tonnes of post-industrial and post-consumer plastics in the process.

In 2016, Conceptos Plasticos want to build 240 new homes, benefiting 1,200 people. By 2018 they plan to build 600 a year, positively impacting 3,000 people.