A future for every child by beating plastic pollution
The Côte d'Ivoire project: Turning plastic waste into materials for building classrooms
288 tonnes of plastic waste is produced everyday in Abidjan and only 5% of it is recycled.
60% of cases of malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia in children are due to bad waste management.
1.6 million children do not go to school in Côte d'Ivoire and one of the challenges is the insufficient number of classrooms.
What we do
UNICEF Côte d'Ivoire partnered with Conceptos Plásticos, a Colombian social enterprise, to create a women-led recycling market that will transform Côte d'Ivoire’s plastic waste into safe and sustainable building materials at low cost. The first plastic bricks factory of its kind in Africa has been built in 2019 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Low-cost, durable and easy to assemble, the plastic bricks will be used to build classrooms that are urgently needed in this West African country. Starting with schools, this innovative construction method will help solve one of the biggest barriers to education – lack of classrooms.
262 classrooms built
1,441 tons of plastic recycled
13,100 children in school
FAQs (frequently asked questions)
How many classrooms are being constructed by UNICEF?
UNICEF has committed to building 528 classrooms but hopes to raise additional funds to build more.
What is the cost of a classroom made from recycled plastic bricks?
A classroom built with recycled plastic bricks costs is less than a classroom built with conventional materials, due to savings in material and labour.
How long does it take to build a classroom?
It only takes a few weeks to build a classroom using this method.
What type of plastic is used to make bricks?
All types of plastic, except for PVC, are used to produce the bricks.
Where will the plastic waste come from?
The plastic waste will all come from Côte d'Ivoire, with the majority collected by women in their local communities.
How many tonnes of plastic waste does UNICEF plan to recycle?
The factory will have the capacity to recycle 9,200 tonnes of plastic waste per year. It takes five tonnes of plastic to build a classroom. One classrooms is 68 sqm.
How were the first classrooms built?
To launch the pilot project and test the materials in Côte d'Ivoire, UNICEF imported bricks from Colombia to build 42 classrooms, latrines and construction units. After that pilot phase, all other bricks are produced in-country using local wastes.
Is there a risk that these buildings will get too hot?
The building materials used do not conduct heat. Therefore, these classrooms are a few degrees lower compared to those built with conventional materials.
What are the fire risks associated with the plastic bricks?
The plastic bricks are treated with fire retardant materials.
What are the effects of daily exposure to the fire-retardant treatment on the plastic bricks? How do UV rays impact the plastic bricks?
Before piloting this concept, UNICEF wanted to ensure that the material was safe for anyone who might be exposed to it, especially children. An independent report has been conducted, attesting to its nontoxicity.
Will the establishment of a plastic bricks factory also get rid of plastic waste from other countries?
Our objective is to fight plastic pollution in Côte d'Ivoire, which is why our partnership will build a plastic bricks factory in-country. The waste used to make the plastic bricks will exclusively come from Côte d'Ivoire, as the program also aims to improve living conditions for the local women and families who collect plastic.