Recycled housing | Living space out of trash

Shipping Container Home

Shipping container homes have a long history of green building. Image from Flickr.

In countries recovering from natural disasters, such as Haiti and Chile, rebuilding housing is simultaneously one of the most important and most difficult tasks for recovery. In developed countries, there is always a demand for housing that is inexpensive, durable and environmentally friendly. Recently, UK company Affresol announced it was launching a line of modular homes made out of recycled plastic waste. If you are looking for a new type of house to buy with your mortgage loan modification, Affresol is claiming that these recycled waste homes can be put up in four days and less expensively than traditional building. However, is living in recycled trash a good option?

Affresol’s Thermo Poly Rock homes

The newest player in the recycled housing market is Affresol’s Thermo Poly Rock manufactured homes. As Business Wire reported, these homes use approximately 18 tons of recycled plastic waste in each full-size home. The patented process takes waste plastics and processes them into a rot-resistant, well-insulated, waterproof, fire-retardant material that is stronger and lighter than concrete.These homes are estimated to cost about 12 percent less than traditional construction, as well.

The estimated life cycle of these homes is 60 years – well above the Indiana University estimate of 14 years for traditional manufactured homes, but well below the 80-120 year life cycle of new construction. However, all the materials in these TPR homes can be recycled at the end of their lives, unlike new construction.

Other options for recycled housing

Affresol’s recycled TPR houses are not the only options for recycled housing, however. There are many options out there for recycled housing – some that have been fully realized and are being used around the world. Other recycled housing concepts are pretty much only concepts — but offer promise. Much life Affresol’s recycled plastic houses, these concepts each have their benefits and drawbacks

Recycled shipping container homes

Shipping containers are pretty much the definition of recycled living. Flexible, plentiful and relatively easy to move, shipping container homes have enjoyed quite a bit of press over the years. The incredibly sturdy steel containers are stacked and used in place of traditional wood framing. They still must be insulated, wired, and plumbed, but the $60 to $90-per-square-foot price tag is incredibly attractive.

Members of the U.S. Military have already had experience with offices and living quarters built in a similar method, and military payday loans are enough to start a recycled shipping container project. Traditional home building usually costs between $150-$300 per square foot. The Lego-like flexibility of shipping containers can also lead to a wide variety of designs, as the DesignCrave photo essay proves.

Earthship recycled homes

Much less flexible and portable than shipping container homes, but more insulated and airy than Affresol’s TPR houses, the Earthship design maximizes environmental factors.

First designed in the 1970s, a “classic” Earthship house starts with old recycled tires. To build the house, recycled tires are crammed full of soil and stacked as the north, east, and west walls of the house. The southern face of the house is usually made of glazed glass to make use of passive solar heating. These homes are made almost exclusively of recycled materials and most suited for climates similar to the Southwestern U.S.

Traditional homes out of recycled materials

Many builders are beginning to realize that, more than the construction of a home, it is the materials that truly make a difference. Many builders around the country are beginning to specialize in recycled material homes, proving that homes made with reclaimed materials can be just as safe, just as beautiful, and much less expensive than traditional building.

Recycled housing: Options for rebuilding devastated areas?

Of course, having a recycled and sustainable home only does good if it can actually be used and lived in. Obviously, we cannot ask countries, states or cities that are just beginning to rebuild from disasters to spend more money and time on using “environmentally friendly” construction techniques. However, with options such as the Thermo Poly Rock and recycled shipping containers that get cheap, safe housing up quickly and inexpensively, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to not consider recycled housing.