Startup building homes of plastic waste wins top social entrepreneurship award

Homelessness is one of the great problems of mankind. The cost of the land and all construction costs vanishes the dream of home owning. Looking at this neglected market the startup Conceptos Plasticos startup solves two problems at once: accumulation of plastic waste and housing shortage.

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The founder Oscar Méndez is an architect and worked four years in plastic industry. It was this experience that he used to, through the recycling of plastic waste, produce blocks for housing construction. The design is simple and the assembly resembles a giant Lego®. Each 40 m ² costs from 5,000 to 6,000 dollars, which is 30% cheaper than the low cost alternatives.

The startup was born in 2010 in Bogotá. In the beginning they taught other companies reuse and discard properly their plastic waste. In 2013 they changed mission to construction systems by initiative of the partner Cristina Gamez who majored in the area. Leveraging the learnings of her master’s thesis, they began to test plastic mixtures until reaching the final model.

The product finally arrived in the Colombian market and the first expansion will be to Brazil and Chile. The process of waste transformation into building blocks lasts three days. After receiving the material is ground and mixed with some additives. Then it’s melted, molded into blocks and cooled. The result are fire-resistant and even earthquake-resistant parts. Between making house foundation and all its assembly, it only takes a week.

The initiative is so promising that the company earned the largest social entrepreneurship competition in the world, Chivas The Venture, valued at 1 million dollars. So far only 20 homes are produced per month and the plan is to triple production in 2017. Environmental, social and economic impact, that is social innovation improving the lives of those who need it most.



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