Dow Inc. is collaborating with Conceptos Plasticos, the Columbia-based non-profit group, in the Aulas Verdes or Green Classrooms program in Columbia. Dow will provide support for the local clean-up activities to recover plastic waste, which will be used in the construction of the schools. Used plastics have been used to build schools in the regions of Columbia in South America as well as the Ivory Coast in Africa. The Columbian company has successfully established three recycled plastics schools in its home country and constructed nine classrooms in three cities in the Ivory Coast. The firm relies on its process of fabricating bricks using hard-to-recycle plastics. A typical school needs nearly 4 metric tons or 8,800 pounds of plastic waste during construction, which has low water consumption and has no waste generation.
After completing three schools, Dow and Conceptos Plasticos hope to build 15 such schools by the end of 2019 in Columbia. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Conceptos Plasticos began construction on a factory in Ivory Coast to make plastic bricks for schools. The nine classrooms initially constructed in the country used plastic bricks made by the company. The plastic pollution in Abidjan and the surrounding area will go into the manufacture of bricks to be used in the establishment of 500 classrooms during the next two years, which will accommodate nearly 25,000 children. Abidjan is the largest city in Ivory Coast, along with being its economic center with a population of over 4.5 million. The region has an estimated 280 tons of used plastic every day, 5 percent of which is currently recycled. Women will be paid for the plastic they collect for making new bricks.
Isabel Cristina Gamez, CEO, and Co-founder, Conceptos Plasticos, has said that by converting plastic waste into an opportunity, the company wants to help bring women out of poverty and create a better world for children. Apart from schools, the company has also built several homes in Columbia using its plastics-to-brick technology. The companies are starting work to build plastic schools in Ivory Coast, although UNICEF says that they also plan to expand their efforts into other neighboring countries.