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Plastic waste builds houses

Sr Jacqueline Coetzer (left) and Sr Paula-Mary van der Walt are involved in the "ecobricks" project

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Sr Jacqueline at work

Nowadays, anyone who tries to buy vegetables or other products that are not shrink-wrapped in plastic usually looks in vain or at least for a very long time.

The problem of rampant plastic waste is well known and has long since ceased to be a regional challenge! Especially in developing countries like South Africa, the mountains of non-recyclable packaging material are growing daily.

Ecobricks - how plastic waste can be recycled

In order to use or recycle these mountains of rubbish for something productive, the project "Ecobricks" was launched. For many months, our Sr Jacqueline Coetzer has been involved in this project. She is supported by Sr Paula-Mary van der Walt from our congregational leadership in South Africa.

Empty plastic bottles are filled with non-recyclable packaging material

The ecobricks project is about filling empty two-litre plastic bottles (e.g. from Coca-Cola and many other manufacturers) with non-recyclable packaging material. Well stuffed with plastic waste, the bottles are almost as stable as conventional bricks and can be used for building houses, for example. In this way, superfluous plastic is used as building material and thus be reused.

Each filled plastic bottle must weigh 700 grams

Plastic material is diverse and goes from the blister packs of medicines to disposable plastic items, candy wrappers and everything else that is at hand and normally lands in the rubbish. Each filled plastic bottle must weigh 700 grams. This means that quite a lot has to be squeezed into the bottle to reach this weight. Cut-up plastic bottles can also be used.

Sr Jacqueline already managed twelve ecobricks in less than a week

Sr. Jacqueline has become a master at filling the plastic bottles and recently "made" - i.e. filled - twelve ecobricks in less than a week. Cheating is forbidden when filling the bottles! The bottles may only be filled with non-recyclable packaging material. Sand and stones as filling materials are not allowed!

Primary school learners receive points for each ecobrick

Sr Jacqueline lives at the “Villa Assumpta” home for the elderly in Pietermaritzburg. The retirement home has a direct link to a local primary school through a girl whose grandmother works at Villa Assumpta as a receptionist.  With the help of their families and friends, the learners fill and collect these ecobricks. For each ecobrick, the learners and their classes receive points.