In the last 65 years plastic production has increased more than 180 times and only 5% of it is recycled. Much of this material ends up in the oceans. What if the plastic bottles had a different fate? Now they go to the roof!
Donald Thomson, a Canadian entrepreneur, launched A’gua, a brand of bottled water in Costa Rica. Apparently, A’gua is just one more in the multitude of plastic bottles, but its difference is precisely in the bottle. Yes, it is PET plastic like the others, but it has a different shape, specially made to turn into a tile after use.
After use, the empty plastic bottles are filled with an insulation composed of a light blend of concrete and paper waste that can be dyed to imitate marble, slate or ceramic tile. The company has already tested corn straw, an abundant agricultural residue in the region, as an alternative for filling the bottles.
The most curious thing about this story is that the entrepreneur never imagined himself in the water industry, especially bottled water, known for being anything but sustainable.
After his move to Costa Rica and through his affordable housing construction company, he and his wife founded a community and music school for children. But it was by organizing a group of volunteers with the students to do cleaning on a beach that he then realized the amount of plastic bottles collected.
This was the impetus for the Water project. Since then, Thomson has created a new organization, the Center for Regenerative Design and Collaboration, whose mission is to harmonize the needs of the population and the environmental impact, stimulating the circular economy.
After many prototypes, tests and production attempts, Thomson found that the first bottle format resulted in a 70% failure due to the machine’s difficulty in achieving the perfect shape. Finally, after almost 2 years, the actual version is already patented together with the method of construction and assembly of the same forming the roof.
With the collaboration of students from the University of Seattle, USA, a manual device was developed to knead the empty bottles so that they acquired the right shape of the tiles. Each roof of the popular homes built by your company consumes about 10,000 bottles and the durability is up to 50 years.