UNICEF, Colombian firm establish plastic brick factory in Cote d’ Ivoire

UNICEF, Colombian firm establish plastic brick factory in Cote d’ Ivoire

Monday, July 29, 2019 7:16 pm


A first-of-its-kind factory for the conversion of plastic waste into building blocks for classrooms, has been established in Côte d’Ivoire, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced on Monday.

The Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, made the announcement in a statement on Monday.

She said that the project was the product of a partnership between UNICEF and a Colombian plastic and rubber waste recycling company, Conceptos Plasticos.

“This factory will be at the cutting edge of smart, scalable solutions for some of the major education challenges that Africa’s children and communities face.

“Its potential is threefold: more classrooms for children in Côte d’Ivoire, reduced plastic waste in the environment, and additional income avenues for the most vulnerable families,” Fore said.

According to the United Nations, Côte d’Ivoire needs 15,000 classrooms to provide children with a place to learn.

The UNICEF director said that recycled plastic collected from polluted areas in and around Abidjan would be used to build 500 classrooms.

The bricks, according to her, will be made from 100 per cent plastic and will be resistant to fire.

She explained that they were 40 per cent cheaper, 20 per cent lighter and would last hundreds of years longer than conventional building materials.

According to her, the materials are also waterproof, well insulated and designed to resist heavy wind.

She stated that no fewer than 25,000 school children would benefit from the project over the next two years, with the potential to increase production beyond.

UNICEF Country Representative, Aboubacar Kampo, said that lack of classrooms was one of the major challenges facing Ivorian school children.

According to him, classrooms either do not exist or are overcrowded, making learning a challenging and unpleasant experience.

“In certain areas, for the first-time, kindergartners from poor neighborhoods would be able to attend classrooms with less than 100 other students.

“Children who never thought there would be a place for them at school will be able to learn and thrive in a new and clean classroom,” Kampo said.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the development will be heartwarming for the outgoing President of the UN General Assembly, Ms Maria Espinosa.

Espinosa has been championing a campaign against plastic pollution, which she describes as a key environmental concern.

According to UNICEF, 280 tonnes of plastic wastes are produced every day in Abidjan alone, while only about five per cent is recycled.

The rest ends up mostly in low-income communities’ landfill sites in, the organisation said.

“Plastic waste pollution exacerbates existing hygiene and sanitation challenges,” the agency said.

“And improper waste management is responsible for 60 per cent of malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia cases in children – diseases that are among the leading causes of death for Ivorian children.”

“Sometimes, embedded deep within our most pressing challenges are promising opportunities,” Fore said.

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