JUL 10, 2016 9:12 AM PDT

Houses for the homeless, using your recycled plastics

Winner of the Young Entrepreneur Awards,34 year old Oscar Andres Mendez Gerardino is a go-getter Colombian out to make a tri-fold impact. The founder of Conceptos Plasticos, an enterprise that recycles plastic and transforms it into construction materials that are used to provide high-quality, safe, low-cost housing, Mendez Gerardino is impacting his country socially, economically, and environmentally.
Oscar Mendez Gerardino, founder of Conceptos Plasticos. Photo: nyheder.tv2.dk
In Latin America, Africa and Asia 40% of people don’t have access to formal housing. In Bogota alone 750 tonnes of plastic are sent to landfills every day. It can take up to 500 years for plastic to biodegrade and 75% of plastic produced globally is either sent to landfills or not formally disposed of. Such plastics are left to pollute the environment.

In 2010, Mendez Gerardino decided to combine these dilemmas, creating a triple impact solution. Using an industrial process called extrusion, Conceptos Plasticos uses multilayered plastics, mixtures of different plastics and rubber to make quality construction materials. These construction materials are used to build low-cost, safe, durable housing that can be broken down and rebuilt elsewhere if necessary, kind of like lego blocks.
The houses build are high quality and low cost. Photo: www.eltiempo.com

The process for building these economically-viable houses is incredibly simple. It takes five days for four people to assemble a house of 40 square meters. Conceptos Plasticos have built nearly 1,500 square meters of houses and shelters in several regions across Colombia and are currently obtaining permits for the construction of an additional 500 square meters in the city of Cartagena. The business has used over 300 tonnes of post-industrial and post-consumer plastics in the process. In 2016, Conceptos Plasticos aims to build 240 new homes, benefiting 1,200 people. By 2018 they plan to build 600 a year, positively impacting 3,000 people.

Mendez Gerardino’s unique idea is inspiring in its multidisciplinary fashion. By recognizing various problems, he and Conceptos Plasticos are striving to tackle a reality that is more interconnected than most businesses manage. Way to go!

Source: Conceptos Plasticos, Changemakers, Unilever Sustainable Young Entrepreneur Awards
About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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