To address the waste management crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, UNICEF partnered in 2018 with Conceptos Plásticos, a Colombian social enterprise that has developed a unique process for recycling plastic into bricks to build schools.
After a successful pilot phase, a recycling plant was created in Abidjan at the end of 2019, allowing the production of bricks to be significantly increased, with up to 33 tonnes of plastic processed per day.
A revolutionary project
- Women are at the centre of this project. By collecting the plastic waste and working at the factory, they are empowered and can significantly increase their income.
- The streets are cleaned up, children can find clean play areas, and fall sick less thanks in particular to awareness raising on environmental protection, recycling and hygiene.
- The bricks produced are used to build schools, allowing more children to attend school.
To ensure that all the conditions are in place to provide the best possible education, the schools built with the plastic bricks all have a canteen, toilets and hand washing facilities. The solar panels provide power.
Gardens are also laid out to enable children to understand the importance of respecting nature and the environment.
Teachers receive additional training to complement their curriculum and the classrooms are equipped with furniture and school supplies.
The bricks’ characteristics
- All types of plastic except PVC
- 20% lighter and more resistant than conventional bricks
- Waterproof, insulating, fire and wind resistant
- A few days needed to assemble a classroom, thanks to their shape similar to LEGO bricks
Ambitious and necessary objectives
2 million children do receive an education because the country lacks schools. The available classrooms are saturated, some of them have over 80 students.
The country is facing a serious waste management crisis. In the capital of Abidjan alone, 288 tonnes of plastic waste are produced every day, of which only 5% are recycled. This waste piles up on the streets, in playgrounds, rivers and green areas, having a huge impact on children and their families’ health. 60% of all malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea cases are a direct result of poor waste management.
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This number may further increase with the experience acquired but also thanks to the support of our donors. After some more research and further development phases, it is planned to use the recycled bricks for the construction of health centres, maternities or reception centres for children.