EcoBrick Exchange

Turning plastic into bricks and bricks into early childhood education centres
2015 SEED South Africa Award Winner Green Technologies Port Elizabeth, South Africa

EcoBrick Exchange educates local communities on the making of simple, reusable building bricks – done by filling PET bottles with rubbish – to construct early childhood centres and other community buildings. The enterprise engages with local businesses, schools and NGOs to train participants, offering second hand household items and clothing in exchange for bricks.

EcoBrick Exchange has developed a construction technique that is at least 20% cheaper than standard construction, and when the enterprise works with communities on new projects, it earns a 50% commission on any savings achieved above the initial 20%.

EcoBrick Exchange combines green construction with community participation and environmental education. Local residents benefit from exchanging bricks for used household goods or discounts at stores, while reducing household waste and cleaning up streets.

Eco-Inclusive Impacts

EcoBrick Exchange combines green construction with community participation and environmental education. Local residents benefit from exchanging bricks for used household goods or discounts at stores while reducing household waste and cleaning up streets.
  • Empowering communities by actively involving them into the process of construction, and teaching them how to produce their own building materials from plastic waste.
  • Improving early childhood development due to enhanced learning environments built by EcoBricks.
  • Saving approximately 0.3m3 of packed garbage from streets and landfill, or three kg of carbon emissions from burning garbage, with the production of each brick.
  • Educating 5,000 participants on environmental awareness and conscious living practices.
  • Offering a low-cost building alternative that reduces heating and cooling costs.
  • Providing an opportunity for community members to produce bricks in exchange for clothing and toys, or 10% discount at certain stores.
  • Generating income for communities’ projects through brick sales.

Partners

This enterprise is supported through its partnerships with various stakeholders, ranging from national and international organisations, investors, research institutes, suppliers, governmental bodies, NGOs, other social and environmental enterprises and more.

Wildlands assists EcoBrick Exchange with the organising and quality management of bricks, as well as collection, and training the community on brick usage.

Masifunde provides EcoBrick Exchange with a platform to test ideas and offers space and student assistants.

Greencycle collects bricks and assists with their transportation.

Penguins Play and Learn Centre is the first recipient township preschool which will receive a new building built from EcoBrick materials.

The SAB Foundation awarded the EcoBrick Exchange with a Social Innovation Award, and has provided funding and advice. 

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