Innovation

Emergency shelter built entirely from recycled plastic

Ocean plastic initiative Waste Free Oceans (WFO) has revealed the first emergency shelter made from recycled plastic, an experimental project that was presented at the Ecomondo circular economy fair in Rimini, Italy.

The creators of the shelter, which is made from plastics found in the River Po in northern Italy, initially developed the concept for use in refugee camps, where it could simultaneously reduce plastic waste and provide a material to be used for shelters or other useful structures. Emergency shelter built entirely from recycled plastic

The shelter is made from separate recycled plastic panels that can be quickly assembled and disassembled when needed to deal with emergency situations. After its presentation at the Ecomondo fair, the panels of the shelter were sent to Athens, Greece, to assist refugees in the area.

More widely, the shelter can be used to help authorities dealing with any type of emergency situation, providing a flexible and affording housing solution to humanitarian crises.

Corepla – an Italian non-profit consortium for the collection, recycling and recovery of the waste from plastic packaging materials – paired up with WFO to provide the recycled material for the Italian project. Its prototype has been produced together with Protomax, a UK plastic engineering specialist, which moulded the material into panels.

Commenting on the project, Antonello Ciotti, President of Corepla, said: “With Waste Free Oceans and an English company [Protomax] we have closed the loop, applying circular economy principles, by developing a small cabin built from river plastic waste. This shelter can be put together in four hours at a very small cost and can be used in emergencies to provide immediate refuge.”

WFO Founder, Alexandre Dangis, described the benefits of a combined environmental and social initiative: “Driving the limits of plastics recycling to the extreme in order to contribute to social housing and emergency shelters is a win-win situation for Europe. More applications from mixed plastics waste in construction and horticulture and furniture markets will need to be developed in Europe if we are serious about the circular economy. At the same time, this social, humanitarian project has an educational purpose which should not be underestimated.”

This is not the first initiative which utilises the vast amount of plastic floating in our oceans. Head & Shoulders designed the first beach plastic shampoo bottle in 2016, and Adidas also launched recycled ocean plastic football kits in the same year. More recently, M&S have uncovered a reusable bag made from 75 per cent ‘Social Plastic’.

To read more about the recycled plastic shelter, check out WFO’s website.