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Plastic waste recycled into school furniture and ecological roofs

Eco-composite material reduces the unsustainable use of wood and raises awareness of the plastic waste issue.

Image: Sitra

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The TECO² solution transforms plastic waste into eco-composite material used in classroom benches and ecological roofs. Currently operating in Burkina Faso, the solution has a highly positive environmental and social impact, addressing plastic waste, deforestation and education quality.

The solution was launched in 2013 with the aim to manufacture school and household furniture. The solution involved the collaboration of French and Burkinabe laboratories to substitute wood with a plastic waste as a raw material. The use of plastic waste reduces the cost of furniture.

Problem

Many African cities lack sufficient plastic waste management infrastructure, meaning that plastic waste builds up in cities and enters the surrounding environment. Durable materials can be in short supply so communities turn to wood which is harvested unsustainably. Such deforestation can in turn contribute to local erosion, flash floods, biodiversity loss and desertification.

Solution

TECO² has developed an eco-composite material that is manufactured using plastic waste and can replace wooden planks in classroom furniture and roofs. The end product is durable, waterproof and resistant to UV aging, while offering better thermal and acoustic insulation than other materials.

The material is composed of recycled plastic pellets, local plant fibres and other local resources. The residues of this process are used in other end products, such as paved roads. The technology was developed in collaboration with the LEMC laboratories of 2iE in Burkina Faso and PIMM of the ENSAM of Paris in France.

TECO² contributes towards closing the loop for plastics through its plastic-waste based material innovation. The company drives the transition to the circular economy by working with national and regional NGOs to raise awareness of the plastic waste issue. They also collaborate with government and research institutions to maximise their impact.

Environmental impact

The solution enables the collection and recovery of plastic waste, currently about 15 tonnes monthly. Indirect impacts include the reduction of deforestation, erosion, flooding, biodiversity loss and droughts through the substitution of wood with recycled plastics.

Social impact

TECO² trains local waste pickers as well as the workers involved in the manufacturing of the recycled pellets to enhance the collection and recycling process in a safe and efficient manner, resulting in the development of skills and raising awareness in the local community.

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