Nigeria recycles plastic bottles, into housing!

12 Aug

Making the pillars

Step by step, bottle by bottle

Katrin Macmillan was on my Climate Change radio show Green Angle on Aso 93.5fm, a few months back to discuss indoor air pollution and efficient wood stove as alternative. She also told my audience and I about recycling and Nigeria‘s first bottle house, constructed from recycled plastic bottles in Kaduna State.Thought to also share this innovation on the blog.The house has been built using earth-filled plastic bottle ‘bricks’ and mud. The three-room structure is so sturdy that it could stand for thousands of years.

Bottle walls and pillars go up.

Plastic bottles take hundreds years to biodegrade in landfill. In Nigeria millions of plastic bottles are dumped into waterways and landfill each year causing pollution, erosion, irrigation blockages and health problems.Bottle houses take this dangerous waste out of the environment and make it useful.

Walls of the bottle house are plastered

Katrin Macmillan launched Nigeria’s bottle recycling programme in December 2010. Used plastic bottles and their lids are now being collected from hotels, restaurants, homes and embassies and, so far, thousands of bottles have been collected for the bottle house builds.

The foundation is in place and the bottle walls begin

Yahaya Ahmed, CEO of Development Association for Renewable Energies (DARE), set out to build energy-autonomous houses from recycled materials. DARE have brought Andres Froesse, founder of Eco-Tec Soluciones Ambientales, to Nigeria to train local masons in the bottle building technique. Land for Nigeria’s first bottle building was donated to the project by engineer Chris Vassilou. The bottle house will be solar powered, with a fuel-efficient clean cookstove, urine filtration fertilisation systems and water purification tanks, thereby making it energy autonomous.

The next Nigerian bottle building project is a school hall in Seluja at the Africa School of Excellence, which urgently needs classroom space. The school children are being trained in the bottle brick making technique and the newly trained masons will lead the build in   January 2012.

A similar project was undertaken in Guatemala. Former Peace Corp volunteer Laura Kutner, behind the Guatemala “Trash to Treasure” project told Bruce Gellerman of Living on Earth, Boston, about the project which she refereed to as a win-win as villages are cleaner and children are getting new schools. Here is a link to Living on Earth’s  “Trash to Treasure” feature

Children making bottle-bricks

“Nigeria has a serious waste and energy problem and this project is one small step towards making positive changes. This project can be easily replicated and is a wonderful way to enable Nigeria to recycle in a creative and practical way. Following on from this first Nigerian  bottle house the children at the African School of Excellence in Seluja have started making the bottle ‘bricks’ for their new school hall and students will be involved throughout the build. The school hall will take 200,000 bottles out of landfill and into education.” – Katrin Macmillan

Bottles were donated by

American Embassy,Centre for Disease Control, Protea Hotel,
British High Commission,Hilton Hotel, British Council Rooftop
Café, Chez Victor, USAID, Chelsea Hotel, Heinrich Boell Foundation

Photos by Katrin Macmillan and Center for Water and Environment Development (CWED).

Got lots of bottles to donate? Email:

46 Responses to “Nigeria recycles plastic bottles, into housing!”

  1. Bibian April 12, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    i am thrilled. i didn’t know such thing exist. i am a passionate environmentalist. it all started with my growing in Aba and the massive littering of pure water sachet. currently i’m working on a business plan on post consumer plastic collection. i’m sure i’ll go far by the end of 2014. pls i specially request to Ugochi and Mr Yahaya, is a way that we can have a one on one contact. i have a serious concerns and i want to do something about it

  2. Linda_uche July 4, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

    I like this… Most especially d idea of building wit plastic wastes… Dis has reali help my project. Kip it up

  3. ezeh emmanuel May 23, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

    hi im located in warri delta state ..I was wondering if it would be possible to undertake such task in a water logged place like warri? if so i’d luv to undertake such task cos ive already gathered up to a 100 bottles.

    • Hi Emmanuel,

      Actually, the plastic bottle house can be constructed anywhere, even on water if a good and adequate foundation is prepared beforehand. The bottles, even though filled with sand, are waterproof if securely capped. Undertaking such task however need some elementary preparations, namely, getting enough bottles and finding good or trained manpower to fill the bottles, not anyhow, but as it should be. Then to get really started, you need a trained builder. Not any untrained mason can just statrt lining up the bottles anyhow. There are some safety rules and techniques to be taken into consideration, before statrting the build.
      But most of all you need a lot of bottles, at least 15 to 20,000 depending on what you want to construct. 100 bottles are not enough even for one layer. Tips to gahter the bottles:-
      You can start combing all open culverts of Warri (free), Restaurants (sometimes free), Hotels (if they are willing to give you for free), offices of foreign companies with lot of expatriates (here you might even find someone who will volunteer to be gathering them for you on weekly basis) etc. I wish you good luck and more grease to your elbows in joining the good work of cleaning our environment from plastic wastes.

      God Bless.

      • Elochukwu Ezenekwe March 28, 2013 at 8:47 am #

        thanks Yahaya Ahmed,

        Aside collection of plastic bottles, is there any capacity building opportunity for local masons down southern Nigerian to enable them really grasp the technique of building with plastic bottles.

  4. DACH GLOBAL May 4, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    Dach Global Resources Limited would like to get information about your eco solution because we are intresred on waste to wealth. (you can get paid for your waste with us)

    • Abimbola Paul January 29, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

      Dear Dach Global, my name is Abimbola Paul our company Name is Nirayet Nig. Investment. We had been in recycyling business for about 2year but dou to lack of fund we were not able to moving on and our maching pack off. Sorry for the story, i just want to know may be you are in need of used plastic and sachet water and like how much you can offer? Thanks

  5. Shariifah yunus March 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    Everytime i use a recycleable product i feel bad i cant do a thing about it. Apart from oil,we have enough junk in this country to make us rich! Newspaper,used plastic,iron,etc. I want to teach my kids to recycle but where do we take them to? We need some noise about this,it will at least help d drainage!

  6. lenrosen4 March 2, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    Do you have any statistics on the number of housing units being built in Nigeria using innovative recycled materials? I am writing a blog article on 21st century solutions to housing the urban poor in the Developing World and have been studying Nigeria’s approach to this challenge. I’ve looked at Lagos and Makoko in particular to get a better understanding of the enormous problem the country faces in dealing with rural to urban migration. Your article is very interesting but can it scale and has it started to yield substantial units to deal with the 8,000,000 housing units forecasted as needed by Nigerian government studies?

  7. lamide giwa February 2, 2012 at 6:25 am #

    hmm,,, veri interesting kudos to ugochi good intiative and @adewole taiwo i hv noticed your interest in env sustainability both home and abroad. kudos to you 2.

    Am working on somtin too and am going to be a part of this cos it is my dream….

    • taiwoadewole February 7, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

      Thank you Lamide, There is a lot already going on and watch out for RecyclePoint in Nigeria, where every individual get rewarded for separating their waste for recycling

  8. Recycling organic waste January 23, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    I found a new idea in this blog that recycles plastic bottles into house,It shows the human of Nigeria takes the interest to recycle the plastic in right way.This is too good idea because the plastic takes a more time to recycling process.

  9. Hal November 17, 2011 at 6:32 am #

    The comment at the top mentions that this bottle technique has been tested for earthquake durability, but the link is broken and it’s not clear if that post is legit. The bottle houses’ ability to withstand an earthquake is really important — if they are actually safer than other building techniques, then they have applicability all over the world. But that needs to be thoroughly tested first…

  10. John Haley November 12, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    HI. I am the Project Director in Uganda for ECO-TEC, the company responsible for the invention of this process. Andreas Froese, the Director, has been involved in the building industry for many years and invented this process in 2001 when he built the first house in the world built using PET in Honduras. In Central America, the majority of his projects have withstood 2 hurricanes and an earthquake with no problems. Recently in Bogota, Colombia at a test center for earthquakes, ECO-TEC had its building method tested – also with positive results.
    Please find us at and thanks for all your interest and support.

  11. Helen November 7, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    Really interesting post, thanks for sharing. Good to know there are lots people still determined to be good stewards.

  12. jude udo September 23, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    for nigeria is good let ever men come to be good in all

  13. C. Oaks September 13, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    This was very inspiring. I am a student at the american school in lagos and I reccently started a society where our mission to recycle, reduse and reuse are very difficult task. If there was any way i/ or my group of high school students could help in any way please let me know. Thank you

    Heres our facebook page for more information of my group:

    • ugochi anyaka September 22, 2011 at 10:25 am #

      wow. glad you are doing something. please kip at it. would keep you posted on more information and possible collaboration.

    • ugochi anyaka September 22, 2011 at 10:25 am #

      Also send me pictures of your activities. i would have them on the blog. thank you

  14. Scams September 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

    Hello my family member! I wish to say that this post is amazing, great written and come with approximately all vital infos. I?d like to see extra posts like this .

  15. Taiwo Adewole August 16, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    This is a nice concept, But I am more interested in PET bottles to PET production or PET bottles to fibres, which coca cola is prompting already through recycling of approximately 200 tons in lagos states, they produces foams, mattress and fires from the recycled PET bottles, more investors are interested in these PET recycling projects, but the major issues at hand now is COLLECTION and AWARENESS, individual could make approximately N400,000 monthly basis if u drive your collection methods effectively, We are ready to but the collected bottles, IF you have the bottles in large quantity we can buy from you!

    • victor September 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

      hi i have bottles in large quantities but how can i get in touch with you my number is 07062626065 thanks i will be glad to hear from you

      • taiwoadewole September 21, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

        I will contact you and we will arrange to pick up the bottles from you, after weighing the quantity available, thanks

    • Kozy March 1, 2012 at 1:14 am #

      Working on recycling projects so i have tonnes of bottles to get rid of. please send me an email and we can discuss further

      • taiwoadewole March 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

        You can reach me on

      • Hi Kozy,
        Surely, we’ll be glad to collect all your tonnes of bottles, which you want to get rid of. Hopefully we are not too late and that the bottles have not already got into waste heap and eventually into the ocean. Where are yopu located?
        Please send us details of how to contact you physically, so that we can arrange for for the “rescue” of those bottles. We assure you they shall be put into good use for the betterment of our environment.

    • Foluke Afolabi September 11, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

      I hope d hope of pet 2 pet is still alive! I think we can work 2gether in dis regard. Am so much passionate about a clean & sustainable environvironment. Getting d pet bottles out of drainages & landfills & also making money is not a bad idea.

  16. Yahaya Ahmed August 16, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    Dear David,

    Your questions on the number of bottles that will build a small library depends on the size(surface area) of your edifice, number of rooms and whether it will be a multi-storey or a ground-floor construction only. For more clarification, send your enquiries to DARE, No.9 Ahmed Talib Avenue, Kakuri, Kaduna – Nigeria. e-mail:

  17. coolprincee August 16, 2011 at 7:53 am #

    Good Idea but better still the plastic bottles should be recycled for reuse so that more trees wouldn’t be lost to rubber production and with more trees alive more CO2 is re-absorbed from the atmosphere….or dont u think so?

    • Sisi Solar (@sisisolar) September 28, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

      The damage has been done already – old plastic bottles should be reused in this way. More trees don’t have to be lost, as newer eco-friendly packaging materials can be utilized (e.g paper)

  18. Lawan Bukar August 15, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    This is a wonderful, highly appropriate development, Ugochi. I am very encouraged by this ingenuity by a Nigerian. Thank you very much. I hope other Nigerians will be encouraged by this to come up basic solutions to our environmental problems, using cheap, easily available, otherwise waste materials..

  19. Laiza Lounge August 15, 2011 at 5:48 am #

    Wow! This is amazing! The ‘green’ industry will definitely impact change in Nigeria! If only people understand it

  20. Jeff Rutherford August 14, 2011 at 3:06 am #

    Really interesting article, Ugochi. Thanks! It puts me in mind of the documentary, Garbage Warrior. Check it out.

    • ugochi anyaka August 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

      Thanks Jeff, step by step, Nigeria is becoming more aware of environmental issues and finding sustainable solution.

      • david August 15, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

        How many bottles on average can build a small library house for my loca project?

  21. cheap bedding collections August 14, 2011 at 1:34 am #

    Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed now.

  22. uraps August 13, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    Fantastic! Ingenious! Reduce, reuse, recycle! It is really beginning to catch on in my life time that we should DO EVERYTHING in our power to save our environment. Building houses with plastic bottles, rather than flinging them around after every use to go on and block drains and litter and pollute the environment and serve as reservoirs for anopheles mosquitoes to breed, is really one way to go.
    Thank you so much Ugo, for the splendid work you’ve done bringing this to global attention. Hope we’ll all take our cue from this and quit worrying about the high cost of cement and all that.
    But, I guess a building of this sort requires quite some expertise to prevent it collapsing on and killing anybody in future, doesn’t it?

    • ugochi anyaka August 14, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

      I am certain the house is safe. Experts were involved. Thanks for staying on the blog Uche

      • Bernd Blaschke October 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

        Hallo Ugochi and all the other, I’m from Germany and we are the partners of Yahaya’s Association (DARE). We started together this project and we have the vision, to create the african Standard-House: built with plastic bottles, electricity comes from the PV-panels, hot water from the solar collector, a cistern (built of PET-bottles) spends fresh water, a separation-toilet delivers fertilizer and the shit goes in the compost for the next half year, with all you feed your house garden. The fruits and legumes can conserved with the solar dryer and in the kitchen is working a high efficient wood-saving cooker like the SAVE80 (ask Yahaya for details). But first of all we must start an education campaign, because ..(see Yahaya’s answer from May 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm). And now start and come to our Eco Farm near Kaduna, there we’ll build Nigeria’s Center for Renewable Energies.

      • ugochi anyaka January 18, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

        i should visit to see for myself. it’s great to hear of projects aimed at achieving sustainable development.

  23. cheap cordless tools August 12, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    I think this is one of the most significant info for me. And i am glad reading your article. But should remark on some general things, The site style is ideal, the articles is really nice : D. Good job, cheers

  24. chisom Ohuaka August 12, 2011 at 5:09 pm #


    • Avana Vaatia August 27, 2011 at 4:47 am #

      Very interesting. I’m doing research for my Masters degree and I need some information regarding recycling and generally, sustainability in Nigeria. I would really appreciate it if you can assist in any way possible. Please get back to me. Thank you


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