Thatch Roofs out of Recycled Plastic Bottles

A professor at Duquesne University, Dr. David Saiia, has created a hand powered machine that cuts plastic bottles into strips that could be used to thatch a roof. Thatched roofs are the traditional roofing material in Ecuador and other tropical climates. The reeds can be locally produced and keep the home cool by allowing air to circulate. Due to more land being used to grow food, the grasses used for thatch are being pushed out and are getting increasingly harder to find.

Roof repair using steel and fiberglass are unsuitable as they let in more heat and are noisy when it rains.

Plastic Thatch Lasts Many Years

Dr. Saiia’s machine cuts the bottle into strips in seconds. Using 3 strips attached to bamboo or melting the ends together to create the length needed, they are then placed on top of a roof frame. Regular thatching lasts about 1 year, whereas the artificial thatch can last many years. The plastic thatch maintains the cooling advantage and allows natural light to come through into the home.

Dr. Saiia said he come up with the idea after witnessing the pile up of non-biodegradable waste in the middle of the South American Rainforest. He will continue to test the materials to ensure they are safe to use and not toxic. Each roof could consume 1200-1600 bottles and improve the local labor situation by creating jobs re-roofing houses.

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