What better way to both help the environment and build a cost effective, structurally-sound home, than constructing one of recycled plastic? Initially, Robert Bezeau had a vision for solving the growing problem of plastic waste in Panama by starting a recycling program. This endeavor amassed close to one million plastic bottles within 1.5 years. From this start he realized the toxic effect buried or burned plastic materials would have in landfills. Limited in low-cost natural resources for building materials, Bezeau envisioned the need for the availability of low cost housing for 30% of Panama’s population living in poverty and began to focus his efforts on designing inexpensive, eco-friendly homes. Thus, the world’s first-ever village constructed out of recycled plastic bottles commenced.
With the assistance of local architects, Bezeau is in the process of constructing an initial 120 houses on 83 acres in a village on the pristine island of Colon in Bocas Del Toro. The beautiful setting has fresh water streams, lush hilltops and verdant valleys. Each house will be constructed of a steel frame filled with plastic bottles and then resurfaced with concrete. Bezeau proclaims that compared to the use of traditional building materials, the use of recycling plastic bottles is not only eco-friendly but extremely cost effective. The plastic bottles also provide incredible home insulation in a country where average temperatures and humidity are high. Trapped air inside a minimum of 10,000 recycled plastic bottles used in each house, creates effective insulation and, on average, cools the house to 62 degrees Fahrenheit.
Although the impact of this unique village may be minimal at this point in time, Bezeau challenges developed countries, creating the most waste, to address this global problem. If over 7 billion people on our planet were to consume one bottle per day, landfills globally could end up with 2.6 trillion plastic bottles. Bezeau says that taking a “green” approach, “owners of the properties will share a conscious, earth friendly shift in their way of living. We will be living inside what we have consumed and thrown away, and will re-construct those materials into modern, stylish and quality-built residencies.”