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UNICEF USA: Plastic Waste as Building Blocks in Côte d’Ivoire

*A happy girl at the playground of her school made out of recycled plastic bricks, in Toumodi-Sakassou, in the center of Côte d’Ivoire.

Due to COVID-19, the schools were closed for several weeks. Classes started, and children are happy to see their friends…UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire has partnered with Columbian social business Conceptos Plasticos to turn plastic waste into construction materials for new schools. Research suggests that over the next 30 years, the world may produce four times more plastic than we ever have before. Finding innovative uses for plastic will become imperative to public health.

Without plastic waste management, groundwater pollution may leave many communities without access to clean water. Plastic-clogged drains could continue to cause flooding and damage infrastructure. And air pollution from burning trash will pose major environmental and health risks. Because of their cost-effectiveness, durability, and ease-of-assembly, bricks made from 100% plastic waste have the potential to disrupt the conventional construction model and catalyze a market for recycled plastic worldwide. Millions of waste pickers working informally in landfills and on city streets around the world could become key waste management partners – elevated out of poverty as they help clean our planet, and provide building blocks for the futures of our children.