6 October 2020 - UN-Habitat in partnership with Othalo, a Norwegian start-up company is working on producing homes from plastic waste to tackle the housing deficit in Africa.

The theme of World Habitat Day on 5 October this year was Housing for All: A Better Urban Future,

 "As we celebrate this year World Habitat Day, UN-Habitat is partnering with Othalo to promote adequate, sustainable and affordable housing for all," said UN-Habitat Deputy Executive Director, Victor Kisob

Following successful laboratory tests, Othalo’s  factory in Estonia has started the production of components to build three demonstration homes for Nairobi (Kenya), Yaoundé (Cameroon) and Dakar (Senegal) and have put out a video about the work.

The first factory for producing the building elements such as partitions for walls, ceiling, roofs and floors using recycled plastic will be built in Kenya next year. Architect Julien De Smedt has also joined the team to contribute in designing sustainable housing for all.

3D concept by JDS Architects

During the process,  plastic waste is shredded and mixed with other elements including non-flammable materials and used to produce building components such as walls, floors and roofs. This can be used to build up to four floors and a 60 square metre home will need 8 ton of recycled plastic. A factory with one production line produces 2800 housing units annually.

It has been estimated that around 60 per cent of people in Africa living in urban areas are in informal settlements. At the same time between 1990 and 2017 African countries imported around 230 metric tonnes of plastic which mostly ended up in dump sites creating a massive environmental challenge.

"The famous Architect Julien De Smedt also joined the team to contribute in designing sustainable housing for All."