The Constructor

Building Construction with Plastic Bottles- Walls, Roofs and Benefits

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Building construction with plastic bottles are low-cost and eco-friendly. Construction of plastic bottle walls, roofs and their benefits in buildings is discussed.

Why Plastic Bottles for Building Construction?

The packaging and plastic bottles are unlimited today. They comprise a large portion of the waste to form greenhouse gasses all around the world. The reuse of plastic bottles is a more efficient solution than recycling. This reuse applied to building projects have gained popularity. The plastic bottles, now can be treated as a building block material similar to bricks for small scale construction. This hence will form a secondary function of bottles, to keep them rid from throwing into landfills. They are readily available and an economic building material.

Benefits of Building Construction with Plastic Bottles

The following benefits are gained to the whole environment and society by employing plastic bottles in building construction:

Plastic or Glass Bottles for Construction?

Based on the material type the bottle possess they can be used for different types of construction. For wall infill plastic bottles are used. Once they are constructed, they are plastered on the exterior. Using glass bottles in buildings will provides light transparency and structural aesthetic effects. So, all the recycled bottles irrespective of the material help to reduce the demand for new material thus reducing the costs.

Fig.1. First PET bottle made House in the World

Building Construction with Plastic Bottles and Community Management

The bottle construction techniques and their benefits must be spread and educate the local community. They are the group of people who are most benefitted by low-cost construction. The local community can be involved in such projects as they can help in collecting plastic bottles and the waste materials from the project site. This togetherness will help in developing a sustainable building from the recycled materials. The end users have a much greater sense of ownership in the project, as they have greater involvement in the material sourcing or in the building process. This can help in maintaining the structure and its purpose.

Vertical Bottle Wall Construction

House that is designed with a bearing frame can have a wall that can be filled with any materials. These materials can be a waste, sand etc. Then it can be plastered over top. Collecting plastic bottles to make wall infill will help in improving the surrounding environment that in turn creates inexpensive building materials. Bottles that are placed right side up within a frame will make a vertical bottle wall. The bottles that are lying on their side will form the horizontal bottle wall. The method involves the initial construction of the build structural frame. Later the bottles are collected and filled with infill materials. The bottles are then used to fill the cavities in the wall. To hold the bottle together for better structural integrity an overall frame with the help of steel wires can be used. In the bottle gaps, loose bottles are inserted. To get a clean finish, plastering is carried out.

Fig.2: Vertical Bottle Wall Construction- Wall Frame, Wire Mesh filled with Bottles and Final Plastering Process

Horizontal Bottle Wall Construction

Similar to vertical wall construction, the bottles can be laid horizontally in courses in between the structure. Once the frame for the building is constructed, the bottles are laid horizontally by using mortar in between and for the finish. Chicken wire can be used to keep it enclosed. Pieces of rebar will help this to be cast to the frame that is constructed. To tie the steel wires, nails or screws can also be used. The below figure-3 shows the use of infill bottles to replace solid concrete. This reduces the amount of concrete.

Fig.3: Bottles to Step Conversion

Significance of Bottle Building Construction

More than the aesthetic factors of glass building construction, they can account for a larger area of the structure. Bottle building block creation is under development to replace the conventional bricks. Heineken in 1960 was the first person to bring glass block as a housing solution. The innovation couldn't continue or gain success at that time. But this idea under different variations keeps on coming, until what we have ended up with presently.

Fig.4: The Bottle School, Philippines

The figure-4 shows the Bottle School structure, constructed in San Pablo, Philippines. It was built under Illac Diaz and My Shelter Foundation with a combination of glass bottle panel and 2 liter plastic bottles. The adobe was used to fill the plastic bottles and where horizontally laid with the mortar placed in between.

Roof Construction with Plastic Bottles

The plastic bottles mainly in its crushed state are used in the construction of roofs. They are very simple and artistic in nature. They have a good waterproofing property. These waste bottles can behave as an immediate shelter. As a long-lasting roof performance can be provided by plastic roofs.

Fig.5: Different Plastic Bottle Roof Construction

Bottle Houses Have Good Insulation

The sand used to fill the bottles will bring excellent insulation towards the heat caused. In houses constructed in Nigeria, this has worked best against the tropical heat. This also brings a relatively cool environment inside the building. For regions around the world, where the money is scarce, the house construction can be done by plastic bottles. It just cost one-third of the cost of the house that is made from concrete and the bricks.
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