Canadian Contractor

John Bleasby   

Canadian to build Panamanian houses from washed up plastic bottles

Canadian Contractor

Panama's 'Plastic Bottle Village' is the brainchild of Robert Bezeau

Fun facts about plastic bottles:

The average person consumes and discards 15 plastic bottles per month. Assuming a lifetime of 80 years, each person born after 1978 will go through 14,400 plastic bottles in their lifetime. Over 22,000 plastic bottles are discarded on our planet every second!

What happens to all that plastic? It’s not good news: It will take hundreds of years for the plastic to degrade, and until then there’s a good chance the plastic will be consumed by birds, fish and other wildlife, posing a significant risk to their life and health.

Millions of bottles literally wash up on beaches around the world each year

Millions of bottles literally wash up on beaches around the world each year

Repurposing plastic on a massive scale


Canadian Robert Bezeau has a better idea: Use these bottles to insulate houses. On a Panamanian jungle island, Robert has outlined plans for an eco-village development of between 90 to 120 houses, using ubiquitous, re-purposed plastic containers.

The Plastic Bottle Village on 83-acre Isla Colon will feature a boutique, an eco-lodge, a community garden for the cultivation of fruit and vegetables, a yoga-exercise pavilion, boat ramp, hiking trails and mini-parks for barbeques and outdoor gatherings; ambitious plans subject to the success of on-going crowd-funding efforts. Fresh water rolls through the surrounding hills and valley, as flora and fauna frolic happily throughout, making it an appealing eco-tourism destination as well as a permanent residential development.

Steel cages holding the bottles are covering with cement......

Steel cages holding the bottles are covered with cement……

A local material that literally washes up on the shore each day
But let’s get back to the bottles. Inside the homes’ concrete walls and housed in cages, plastic bottles will result in buildings so cool they won’t need air-conditioning and are reported very earthquake resistant. It’s an innovative and very large scale utilization of an everyday throw-away item.

...then painting and trim finishes the look

…then painting and trim finishes the look

According to the Plastic Bottle Village website: “Homes are constructed by fabricating a steel cage and then filling it with plastic bottles. The walls are then set into place and electrical cables and other services are inserted. Layers of concrete then cover the mesh before the home is finished with windows and a roof.” Between 10,000 and 25,000 re-purposed plastic bottles will be used in each home.

plastic bottle houseFor Bezeau, it’s a dream come true
Bezeau had come to Panama in 2012, and led the Boca Del Toro recycling programme. In just over one and a half years, he and his volunteers collected over 1 million plastic bottles that had washed up the shores. “One morning when he awoke, he had an image in his mind of what all that plastic could build,” the web site says.

Working in conjunction with Denver architect Doug Eichelberger, plans took shape to find a useful and eco-friendly purpose for all these collected. The Plastic Bottle Village is the result: Homes that will range in price from $149,000 to $300,000. The development project began in 2015 with the construction of the first single-story house and the near-completion of a two-story home by year end.

But according to the website, Bezeau’s hopes go beyond this project. “For Robert, the most urgent thing for him is to educate people about creative and useful ways to reuse plastic bottles on a very large scale. His dream for a plastic free island is a reality. He wants people to visit beautiful Bocas Del Toro and leave with the memory of seeing people working together to keep the planet clean and green.”

Read more about the Plastic Bottle Village and its GoFundMe campaign.

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1 Comment » for Canadian to build Panamanian houses from washed up plastic bottles
  1. Skye says:

    I have a property in cambutal. I’m looking to hire someone to help build something like this. Eco friendly and above the sand so not to disturb the turtles. Can you please get back to me?

    I look forward to it!

    Skye Wikjord

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