Can You Build a House Out of Recycled Plastic? 7 Examples

A collage of four photographs showing different styles of building made with recycled plastic. There is an image of plastic water bottles overlain; the water bottles are crumpled up and in the shape of a recycling icon (circular). The example buildings include the use of recycled plastic water bottles filled with dirt or other plastics as well as recycled plastic bricks and 3d printed recycled plastic. Across the bottom of the image are the words "Can You Build a House Out of Recycled Plastic? 7 Examples."

Plastic is everywhere, and we’re drowning in it. From the ocean’s depths to the highest mountains, this non-biodegradable material is everywhere on our planet.

What if we could turn all this plastic waste into something useful like a house? Can you build a house out of recycled plastic?

You can build a house out of recycled plastic which is a sustainable building material. Recycled plastic requires fewer resources to manufacture, creates minimal waste, and is highly durable. Moreover, plastic is lightweight and exhibits the mechanical properties necessary for construction.

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss seven examples of houses built out of recycled plastic.

I’ll go through their details, including location, to help you visualize the beauty and pizazz of building with recycled plastic.

Let’s dive in!

1. The EcoARK Pavilion

The EcoArk in Taipei. It is made from recycled plastic bottles, has nine stories and a sweeping curved facade. It is a light beige color and has a logo saying "EcoARK" on the front. The ground floor has diamond-shaped corrugations along it and there is a paved area in front with people walking by.
The EcoArk in Taipei, made from recycled plastic water bottles. Image courtesy of LUCY WANG at INHABITAT.

The EcoARK Pavilion in Taipei, Taiwan, is an excellent example of an amazing house built from recycled plastic.

National Geographic describes the EcoARK Pavilion as the benchmark for the future of green buildings due to its magnificent and stylistic design.

The EcoARK Pavilion was built in 2010 using 1.5 million recycled plastic bottles. It’s a 9-story exhibition hall with a floor area of almost seven basketball courts.

Architect Arthur Huang designed the pavilion to withstand the forces of nature, like earthquakes and fires.

The hall is designed with hollow polli-bricks made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles. The bricks were designed with interlocking grooves to fit together like LEGOs. Therefore, they need only a little sealant for attachment.

The magnificent pavilion can accommodate hundreds of visitors and is an incredible example of what can be built with recycled plastic.

2. La Casa de Botellas

La Casa de Botellas built by Alfredo Santa Cruz in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina. The structure is built from all kinds of plastics, including CD jewel cases for the windows. The image shows the entrance, which has a curved roof and facade that clearly shows the plastic bottles used in its construction.
La Casa de Botellas built by Alfredo Santa Cruz in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina. The structure is built from all kinds of plastics, including CD jewel cases for the windows. Image courtesy of The Kid Should See This™.

La Casa de Botellas is a plastic house built by Alfredo Santa Cruz in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina.

Alfredo built this house to promote social and ecological responsibility. It was built using 1,200 PET plastic bottles and 1,300 tetra-pack cartons.

The structure demonstrates how we can interrupt our patterns of negative environmental impact by giving plastics a second use instead of discarding them.

The La Casa de Botellas is a sturdy structure with doors and windows made from CD jewel cases. It features a tetra-pack roof, couches, beds, and coffee tables made from plastic.

The house’s primary purpose is to promote and inculcate a culture of recycling and reusing plastic instead of discarding it in the environment.

The La Casa de Botellas house is currently open to tourists guided by the Santa Cruz family.

3. The Plastic Bottle Village

A photograph of a two-story building under construction. The walls are made from metal cages filled with waste plastic bottles. The holes for the windows are small squares, round arches and gothic arches, giving it a somewhat eastern appearance.
The plastic bottle village in Panama. Image courtesy of – Locon Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

The Plastic Bottle Village is a community of houses built by Robert Bezeau out of recycled plastic. The village is located on the island of Bocas del Toro in Panama.

Robert collected more than one million plastic bottles for use in this project. This served as a path to eco-friendly building in Panama.

He filled the plastics with sand for insulation and structure before using them to build walls.

The Plastic Bottle Village is home to 120 sustainable homes and a few other buildings constructed with plastic. It features eco-homes, an education center, a museum, and a retreat destination.

The village also houses a castle and a dungeon where visitors can come on vacation and learn more about up-cycling and recycling plastic waste.

The bottles are encased in concrete for aesthetic appeal. This makes them resemble regular homes while providing excellent insulation.

Robert aimed to educate as many people as possible about their environmental responsibility and the need to minimize plastic waste.

Through his training at this village, he aimed to incorporate other ways people could use plastic waste. Some of the ways he taught included:

  • Creating temporary disaster shelters
  • Animal buildings on farms
  • Water catchment tanks
  • Swimming pools
  • Barns
  • Land drainage systems
  • Septic tanks
  • Roads

The Plastic Bottle Village showcases how plastic can be reused and up-cycled into something beautiful.

4. The Plastic Bottles House

A house in Nigeria built with bricks made from discarded plastic bottles filled with compacted sand. The house is round with rectangular windows. The ends of the individual bottles can be seen in the walls. The walls are held together with string and mud mortar.
A house in Nigeria built with bricks made from discarded plastic bottles filled with compacted sand. Image courtesy of Al Jazeera English.

The Plastic Bottles House is a creative invention in Nigeria that turns plastic waste into beautiful construction material. The house has walls made by packing plastic bottles with sand and then stacking and binding them with mud and strings.

The developers used approximately 14,000 PET plastic bottles to build the house. Interestingly, the house is 18 times stronger than traditional houses made with regular bricks. Therefore, it can withstand earthquakes and strong winds.

The project also serves as a reminder of the importance of reducing and recycling plastic waste for a better world.

Here is a video demonstrating the Plastic Bottles House of Nigeria.

A screenshot from an 
Al Jazeera English video on YouTube. The video covers the initiative in Nigeria to use plastic waste for construction of houses. The screenshot shows a plastic bottle house made using water bottles filled with compacted dirt and bound with mud and string. The walls are pleasantly curved and the main house is round. The ends of the water bottles can clearly be seen in the walls. There is protective plastic sheeting covering the tops of the walls as the house is still under construction.
This Al Jazeera English video on YouTube covers the initiative in Nigeria to use plastic waste for construction of houses. Image courtesy of Al Jazeera English.

5. 3D Printed Interior by Nagami Design

A futuristic shop design made with 3D printed plastic. The walls, floor and shelves have the appearance of ice and have naturalistic sweeping patterns.
The new store for ecoalf is made from over three tonnes of recycled plastic which has been used to produce the materials for the refit with 3d printing. Image courtesy of NAGAMI.

3D printing is a new technology that has enabled artisans to create intricate designs with plastic waste.

The 3D printer works by heating the plastic and then extruding it layer by layer until the desired shape is formed. This makes it possible to create unique patterns and shapes with recycled plastics.

Nagami design used this technology to build a fully 3D-printed interior with recycled plastics.

The technology-driven design studio aimed to enhance its designing capabilities by creating something sustainable with discarded plastic.

The interior features extruded sculptures, furniture pieces, and walls made from recycled plastics.

This project demonstrates how 3D printing can create innovative designs from recycled plastic that can be used in any space.

6. Bottle Schools in Guatemala

Two photos side by side. The left hand side image shows the construction of one of the walls of a "Bottle School" in Guatemala. The construction uses rows of bottles that have been stuffed with plastic trash and bound together between chicken wire. The walls are then plastered with up to three layers of sand/cement mix to provide a smooth, clean finish that is indistinguishable from a "normal" house.
A bottle school under construction and the finished building in Guatemala. Image courtesy of Serve The World Today.

Bottle Schools have been thriving in the rural areas of Guatemala due to high poverty levels. Hug It Forward, a U.S.-based non-profit organization, partnered with local communities to build these schools.

Currently, 133 bottle schools have been built in Guatemala at an average cost of $8,500.

The idea is to collect plastic bottles and fill them with inorganic materials to make “eco-bricks.” Common materials used to fill these bottles include polystyrene, plastic bags, and chip packets.

The construction process is a community effort that includes parents and children. While the children collect and fill the bottles, parents volunteer on the construction site.

After filling the bottles, they are bound with mud or concrete to form strong walls.

These Bottle Schools are designed to provide a safe learning environment for children in remote areas.

Recycling plastic waste to build schools in Guatemala achieved the following objectives:

  • Building schools efficiently and economically.
  • Preventing the accumulation of plastic waste within the community.
  • Mentoring the youth on the importance of recycling and reusing plastic waste instead of disposing of it to the environment.

7. Build a House Out Of Recycled Plastic Bricks in Colombia In 5 Days

A house built from recycled plastic bricks by Conceptos Plásticos in Colombia. The walls are dark gray in color and the house has a corrugated metal roof. The windows have not yet been fitted but the holes in the walls are rectangular. The house sits on a concrete slab that extends away from the walls to form a large paved area.
A house built from recycled plastic bricks by Conceptos Plásticos in Colombia. Image courtesy of ArchDaily.

Conceptos Plásticos is a Colombian company that builds houses with recycled plastic bricks. One famous project by this company is a recycled plastic brick house built in five days.

After building his house out of plastic, Fernando Llanos partnered with architect Óscar Méndez to create the company. Later, the company became renowned in Colombia for building homes with recycled plastic bricks.

The company uses plastic materials from recyclers and factories that dispose of enormous amounts of plastic waste. After acquiring these wastes, they extrude them to create molds of 6.6-pound bricks (3 kilograms).

When using them in construction, the bricks are assembled under pressure to enhance their insulating capacity. Therefore, this recycled plastic brick house is very energy-efficient due to excellent insulation that helps reduce heating and cooling costs.

The Conceptos Plásticos company spent approximately $6,800 to build this house in five days. The house features a living room, two bedrooms, a bathroom, a dining room, and a kitchen.

Due to Colombia’s high seismic activity, the house was designed to be strong enough to withstand frequent earthquakes. Therefore, the fact that it is a plastic-based house demonstrates that plastic buildings are strong enough to survive in earthquake-prone areas.

Final Thoughts

The idea of building a house out of recycled plastic may seem far-fetched. However, as we’ve seen from the seven examples, it’s not only possible but also beneficial for the environment.

From low-cost housing solutions to luxurious eco-friendly homes, the possibilities are endless. Thus, incorporating recycled plastic into your construction projects can reduce waste, save resources, and create innovative and sustainable buildings.

Now that you know you can build a house out of recycled plastic, check out this article for 11 examples of eco-friendly materials to build with.

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