Hand-Cranked Machine Turns Plastic Bottles Into Thatch Roofs

By Andrew Liszewski on at

While they might seem primitive, woven thatch roofs are an effective way to keep out rain while ventilating a home. But in Ecuador, where grass lands are being re-claimed for farming, discarded plastic bottles might just be a better alternative.

Dr. David Saiia, a business professor at Duquesne University, has created a human powered machine that slices up three litre plastic bottles into thin strips that work as effectively as thatch and grasses when it comes to making a roof.

In a downpour it's a better alternative to corrugated metal or plastic sheets which can act like a drum as rain drops beat away on it. And the plastic actually lasts a lot longer than natural materials like thatch which will biodegrade at a much quicker rate. So there's less maintenance and re-roofing needed.

Of course plastic isn't exactly a favourite material of environmentalists, so the new roofs are still undergoing testing to make sure they're safe and non-toxic. But it's estimated that the average home in Ecuador would re-use up to 1,600 bottles, saving them from land fills where their environmental impact would otherwise be a negative one. [Duquesne University via Inhabitat]