On July 29th UNICEF announced that it had broken ground on the first plant in cote d 'ivoire to convert plastic waste into modular plastic bricks, in partnership with Conceptos Plasticos, a Colombian social enterprise.The easy-to-assemble, durable and low-cost bricks will be used to build much-needed classrooms in ivory coast.
UNICEF executive director faw says the factory will bring smart scalable solutions to some of the major educational challenges facing children and communities in Africa.The potential is threefold: to provide more classrooms for children in ce d 'ivoire, to reduce plastic waste in the environment and to provide an additional source of income for the most vulnerable families.
Cote d 'ivoire needs 15,000 classrooms to meet the needs of out-of-school children.To fill this gap, UNICEF, in partnership with plastics for ideas, plans to build 500 classrooms over the next two years for the more than 25,000 children most in need of education, using plastics recycled from contaminated areas in and around Abidjan, with the possibility of more classrooms in the future.
The United Nations representative in ivory coast, Aboubacar Kampo, says one of the main challenges facing ivorian schoolchildren is the lack of classrooms.Either there are no teachers at all or they are overcrowded, making learning a challenging and unpleasant experience.With plastic brick classrooms, kindergarten teachers in poor neighborhoods will be able to reduce the number of children in classrooms to less than 100 for the first time in some areas."Children who never thought they would have a 'place' in school will be able to learn and thrive in a clean classroom."
Of the more than 280 tonnes of plastic waste produced in Abidjan each day, only about 5 per cent is recycled, with most of the rest ending up in landfills in low-income communities.Plastic waste pollution exacerbates existing health and environmental health challenges.Improper waste management accounts for 60 per cent of childhood cases of malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia, all of which are among the leading causes of death among children in cote d 'ivoire.
Once fully operational, the plant will recycle 9,600 tonnes of plastic waste a year and provide income for poor women in the formal recycling market.
Plastic concepts has built nine classrooms in Colombia using plastic bricks to demonstrate the feasibility of its construction methods and materials.
Bricks are 100 percent plastic, fire resistant, 40 percent cheaper than traditional building materials, 20 percent lighter, and last for hundreds of years.The brick also has good water resistance and insulation, and can withstand strong winds.
In addition to investing in factories in cote d 'ivoire, UNICEF plans to expand the program to other countries in the region, as west and central Africa accounts for a third of the world's primary school dropouts and a fifth of the world's early middle school dropouts.