The first plastic brick factory is set to be constructed in Cote d’Ivoire to convert plastic waste into bricks for school construction, a UN spokesman said Monday. The development comes after the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) entered into innovative partnership with Colombian social enterprise Conceptos Plasticos to build the factory.
“This factory will be at the cutting edge of smart, scalable solutions for some of the major education challenges that Africa’s children and communities face,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
Plastic brick factory
The bricks will be made from 100% plastic and are fire resistant. They are 40% cheaper, 20% lighter and will last hundreds of years longer than conventional building materials. They are also waterproof, well insulated and designed to resist heavy wind.
The durable, low-cost bricks will be used to build much needed classrooms in the West African country. Once it is fully operational, the factory will recycle 9,600 tons of plastic waste a year, according UNICEF said. Nine classrooms have been built in Gonzagueville, Divo and Toumodi using the easy-to-assemble plastic bricks made in Colombia, demonstrating the viability of the construction methods and materials.
“Cote d’Ivoire needs 15,000 classrooms to meet the needs of children without a place to learn, said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. With this innovative partnership, 500 classrooms for more than 25,000 children will be built in the coming two years,” said Henrietta Fore.
UN General Assembly President, Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces commended the project and said that through their support and action, the Nairobi UN headquarters is now single-use plastic free, joining the UN headquarters in New York in the campaign. Construction of the factory is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Alongside investment to build in Côte d’Ivoire, plans are also under way to scale this project to other countries in the region, and potentially beyond. West and central Africa accounts for one-third of the world’s primary school age children and one-fifth of lower secondary age children who are out of school.