Norwegian start-up Othalo has devised a method of transforming plastic waste into building materials, transforming a climate catastrophe into humanitarian aid. Their patent-pending technology can turn eight tonnes of recycled plastic into a sixty-square-metre home, with a single production line capable of producing 2800 units each year – a system that could make a real dent in the global housing deficit.
Othalo has partnered with UN-Habitat, an organisation that strives for ‘a better quality of life for all in an urbanizing world’. As the global population continues to grow, more and more people lack the basic human need of adequate housing, impacting on the health and opportunities of these communities. This is a particularly pressing problem in Sub-Saharan Africa, where over 55% of people spend more than 30% of their income on housing – an overwhelmingly high statistic, particularly when contrasted with Australia and New Zealand, where only 6% of people spend this proportion of their income on housing. For people in the Sub-Saharan region, this is both an affordability crisis and a crisis of adequacy, as more than half of urban populations live in informal settlements with inadequate housing.
This global situation is what makes Othalo’s housing so significant. With plastic becoming one of the worst environmental issues of our era, recycling plastic waste into housing mitigates two global issues at the same time. Othalo’s process involves shredding recycled plastic and mixing it with non-flammable materials to produce building components such as roofs, walls, and floors, which can create a home up to four storeys tall. With a small, sixty-square-metre home using eight tonnes of plastic, each new home prevents massive amounts of waste from entering landfill or waterways, and that’s not the only way Othalo addresses climate change – the only greenhouse gases emitted during the process are from transportation.
Othalo’s plastic housing could be a huge step towards helping millions of people find adequate housing, addressing the housing deficit while simultaneously saving the environment one house at a time. The company’s approach is beautifully rounded, helping humans with housing and jobs as well as mitigating climate change, and we can only hope the Othalo method will be taken up globally.
If you liked this article, you might like to read about a new super-enzyme that breaks down plastic faster than ever before.