Construction of a block

Reused Plastic into construction materiales to build houses for people and communities

3C Construcciones

1. No Poverty 10. Reduced Inequalities 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 13. Climate Action 17. Partnerships for the Goals

Overview

The proposal of 3C is disruptive innovation that builds houses with reused PET and polyethylene waste through a mixed construction method, resulting in finished houses similar to conventional ones, with high thermal insulation and fire resistance.

The business is also socially innovative, as it is implemented through solid partnerships, between 3C, NGOs and cooperatives, as well as with municipalities, neighborhoods and universities.

Through these alliances, 3C helps reducing poverty and plastic pollution as well as the use of water and energy in the construction industry and in the operation of buildings.

Authors

Fernando Botello

Fernando Botello

Macarena Agra

Macarena Agra

Sofia Giovanna Penedo

Sofia Giovanna Penedo

Lucía Belén Licciardi

Lucía Belén Licciardi

Eva Fernández

Eva Fernández

School

Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina

Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina

Professor

Aleandra Scafati

Aleandra Scafati

Innovation

From a technical standpoint the business takes advantage of the sophisticated molecular structure of a material (PET and polyethylene) produced through a complex technological process -which is massively discarded under the "business as usual" paradigm and which abounds in marginal areas- to manufacture blocks for the walls of houses which have a high performance in thermal insulation and fire resistance.

By applying a simple mechanical method, it saves between 15% and 20% in costs and reduces the time of construction of a standard house of 73.8 sq. m. from around a year to between 4 to 6 months.

From the social point of view, the innovation relies on partnerships working as follows:

  • 3C builds and sells houses, purchasing the blocks from NGOs and cooperatives, which are trained by 3C (sometimes with universities).
  • The NGOs and cooperatives provide work to people in vulnerable situations and pay them for the production of the blocks. They also arrange with municipalities, neighborhoods and factories for the supply of PET and polyethylene.
  • Municipalities and neighborhoods promote 3C's technology and advise NGOs to work as cooperatives, while they are benefited from the reduction of landfills and increase of employment.
  • Universities test 3C's technology, publishing academic papers on it.

Reused Plastic into construction materiales to build houses for people and communities

Inspiration

The entrepreneur, Lucas, worked in marginalized social communities, where plastic waste was abundant and people were unemployed. So he started to wonder "how to create a link between them to reduce unemployment, poverty and pollution".

That question led him to develop an easy-to-implement technology to reuse plastic waste in the construction of houses, as well as to involve the local priest, Mariano Oberlín -head of the Foundation Yayaicú-, who work in the area with people who were unemployed.

As a result, they started working together, providing jobs for these people and applying the technology of 3C.

Overall impact

The innovation of 3C has triggered the following impacts:

Environmental

  • Reduced 45% the footprint generated by conventional methods of construction, implying a saving of 9.32 Tn CO2 equivalent to GEI emissions in a standard house of 73.8 sq. m., by reusing around 15 kg. per sq. m. of walls.
  • Avoided the disposal of approximately 3 Tons of plastic waste in landfills and open dumps, according to the 2018 CIRCA's report.
  • Built a total of 1,110 sq. m. of housing in the first half of 2021, reusing about 18,000 kg. of plastic waste and avoiding about 174 Tn CO2 eq. of GEI emissions, according to an internal report.

Social

  • Created and kept partnerships with the following 6 NGOs and cooperatives, as of today: Fundación Yayaicú, Fundación Eco Inclusión, Federación Familia Grande Hogar de Cristo, Fundación La Morera, Empresa de Gestión Social El Arca and Unión de Educadores de la Provincia de Córdoba.
  • Generated around $6,000 USD for people working at NGOs and cooperatives, in the first half of 2021.
  • Provided employment for approximately 400 people at NGOs and cooperatives.
  • Thanks to the easy process, people learned to apply 3C's technology either to self-generate their own housing or to develop themselves professionally.

Economic

  • Turned something considered as waste in the status quo into a profitable product, sold as final houses at $350 USD per sq. m., 5% of which goes to 3C as net income.
  • Increased profitability of the construction industry by reducing costs between 15% and 20%, as well as 6 to 8 months of work in a standard house of 73.8 sq. m.

Business benefit

Thanks to the technical and social innovations applied, the business has constructed 36 buildings since 2016 and has 5 houses under construction.

Moreover, 3C joined the digital platform "Impacton", where it offers to transfer its industrial and social technology to foreign entrepreneurs by payment of a royalty.

Through this process, the business entered new markets in South America and Africa, being Chile, Brazil and Cameroon the first pilot cases.

Social and environmental benefit

3C technologies collaborated to decrease GEI emissions in a context where the construction industry accounted for 10% of global energy-related CO2 emissions and, together with the operation of buildings, generated 38% of such global emissions in 2019, according to the 2020 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction issued by the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction at the United Nations Environment Programme.

On the other hand, 42% of people in Argentina lived below the poverty line in 2020, according to the 2021 INDEC's report. Under this dramatic scenario, 3C generated quality jobs for people in vulnerable situations, empowering their communities and reducing social inequalities.

In turn, the business is aligned with the circular economy model by optimizing resources, giving a new life to plastic by reinserting it, as well as people, into the productive system.

Interview

Lucas Recalde, Founding Partner

Photo of interviewee

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3C Construcciones

3C Construcciones

Agua de Oro, In the provinces of Córdoba, Mendoza and Buenos aires., AR

Business Website: https://3cconstrucciones.com.ar

Year Founded: 2016

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

3C Construcciones is an innovative venture that -through partnerships with NGOs, cooperatives, municipalities and universities- builds multipurpose spaces and housing in Argentina, using PET and polyethylene waste, which are reused by taking advantage of their sophisticated technical properties in the construction of blocks that will form walls, minimizing the use of water and electricity.

The business articulates industrial and social technologies, generates economic benefits from what is considered waste, includes people facing vulnerable situations into the labor market and develops a productive network that strengthens communities.

The constructions method fit into the concept of "passive houses" (low consumption housing) as they do not require air conditioning or heat. Reducing energy consumption, maintenance fees and GHG emissions