A Mexican Startup Is Eradicating Poverty With Garbage

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A Mexican entrepreneur has come up with a very smart solution to battle two dissimilar problems at the same time: poverty and plastic waste.

Eco Domum Mexico Turns Plastic Waste

A Mexican company is recycling its used plastic to build affordable houses, in an attempt to cure two social ills at once.

The world has a huge plastic waste problem. An estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion non-biodegradable plastic bags are used each year which have the capacity to circle the earth four times! At the same time, at least 10 percent of Mexico’s population lives in extreme poverty as defined by the World Bank, surviving in a daily budget of $1.25 or less.

Carlos Daniel Gonzalez, a resident of Puebla, Mexico, had the idea of killing two birds with one stone which motivated him to found Eco Domum or Eco Home. The company collects used plastic and melts down the material so it does not release toxic fumes. Once the plastic is melted down, it is compressed into sheets about the size of a standard plywood piece.

“As a kid, I remember seeing all of the plastic and the contamination it caused, for us and for the animals,” said González. “I’ve always cared about the environment, so I decided I had to create and lead a solution.”

Read More: Plastic Beads Are The Latest Pollution Threat To Great Lakes

Each of Eco Domum’s 430-square-foot prototype houses use 2 tons of plastic, which only amounts to a cost of 5000 pesos or US$280. Plastic is a highly resilient synthetic material that does not decompose. Gonzalez has used this fact to his advantage by creating houses that will not rot over time. As with the case of plastic bottles, these homes are also water proof.

“It only takes seven days to build a house that uses 2 tons of plastic,” said the innovator.

A new study by the World Economic Foundation and Ellen MacArthur Foundation believes that by 2050, the weight of plastic in the sea will outweigh the weight of its fish. In 2012, Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, Mexico, estimated 40 million tons of garbage was created in the country, with only 15 percent of it recycled.

"We are tossing valuable materials into the trash, and there is the whole problem of the absence of re-use and recycling. The goal is to recycle at least 60 percent of our waste. We must establish sanitary landfills that meet health and safety regulations. You can't just improvise a landfill site," said Iván Restrepo, head of the Ecology and Development Centre.

Hopefully, this great initiative will be the solution to both of Mexico’s problem: lack of proper housing for people living in squalor and excess waste.

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