From comes this story about using plastic bottles filled with sand as bricks for building:

A surplus of empty plastic bottles is something that not only affects Africa, but the entire planet. In a small village in Nigeria, a solution has been applied to not only provide shelter in a poverty stricken country, but find a use for refuse. Packing sand into plastic bottles is a technique that started nine years ago in India, South and Central America.  Named “bottle brick” technology, the compacted sand inside the bottles is almost 20 times stronger than bricks.  The best part is that in a region that does not have much money to spend on building materials, the houses are estimated to cost 1/3 of a house made of concrete and bricks.

Adding to the appeal of the simple technology, the houses are ideal for the hot Nigerian climate because the bottle bricks buffer the house from the intense heat. Also, in a place known for violence, the houses are completely bullet proof. Bottles are mostly sourced from hotels, restaurants, homes and foreign embassies, so the 500 million bottles that are discarded each year in Nigeria alone are literally finding new homes instead of landfills or the ocean.  The circular houses look cool too with the exposed round bottles producing a unique design.


Bottle Bricks in Africa — 16 Comments

  1. I want to know about the cement bonding characteristics with the bottle’s smooth surface. Also what other disadvantages are there?

    • The bottles should bond adequately with the cement because there’s a continuous lattice of cement mortar. The main drawback is this method uses a lot of cement.

  2. I think this is wonderful and workable idea…just need details on how to hold bottles together. I like in the desert and sand is plentiful…just fill the bottles once a week and stack. Always open to new ideas to recycle.. Jeri Sue

  3. Those walls are beautiful and the workmanship looks impeccable! Have you seen that the folks at Project Somos in Guatemala are using bottles for their interior walls? They are stacked vertically between wire mesh which I assume they will plaster. I can’t tell if the bottles are filled with anything by the photos. It’s a neat idea that we’re considering for our internal walls because plastic bottles litter the streets here in sad abundance. I’m just wary of the chore of filling of so many bottles…

  4. I believe a better system would be using a recycled soda filling machine modified to fill the bottles with a geopolymer product. Simple bricks could be made by the millions..

    • Yeah, it would be very slow. Much faster to use earthbags. Use recycled rice bags, etc. and the end result would be about the same: low cost, local soil, low impact. Bu you’d save time, and tamped soil is stronger than loose soil. Earthbag would be less expensive because you don’t need cement between courses.

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