Nova Scotia·Waves of Change

This house was built using 600,000 recycled plastic bottles

A pair of entrepreneurs with boat-building backgrounds have constructed a home in Nova Scotia using thousands of melted recycled plastic bottles.

Bottles are shredded, melted, formed into slabs and made into walls for the house.

More than 600,000 plastic water bottles went into the construction of the home on the Meteghan River waterfront. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

Joel German says when he and David Saulnier told people their plan to build homes with plastic bottles, "they looked at us like we were crazy."

Most houses use wood, nails, shingles and insulation — but not theirs.

This week, the team from JD Composites unveiled its first home in Meteghan River on Nova Scotia's southwest shore. It has walls made with 15-centimetre thick plastic slabs. More than 600,000 recycled plastic bottles were shredded, melted and formed into custom moulds for the walls.

"You're saving the planet. You're saving the oceans. You're taking all this [plastic] out of the environment and making stuff with it," said Saulnier.

Take a tour of the interior of the house
This house in Meteghan River, N.S., was made with 600,000 recycled plastic bottles 1:11

The build also came together very quickly. The walls went up in seven hours.

The unique construction process also has unique attributes.

The walls provide both structural strength and insulation. It helps the home maintain inside temperatures more than twice as effectively as conventionally built homes, the builders say.

The home's plastic panels were also tested against winds stronger than a Category 5 hurricane. JD Composites says the testing machine maxed out its power and the walls didn't break.

An example of the custom slabs that make up the home's walls and roof. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

With all of these features, the home still costs about the same as normal construction, the builders said. They didn't specify the exact cost, but said the final cost was less than $400,000, including all furnishings.

The founders of JD Composites have their roots in the boat-building industry and have used many of the techniques and materials in this new home.

"It's a bit of an outside approach. Taking from one industry and transferring it over to another. Thinking a bit outside the box, and making it work," said Joel German.

The founders of JD Composites, Joel German and David Saulnier, sit in a home they built using recycled plastic bottles. On the table, shards of plastic show the first stage of the recycling process. (Brett Ruskin/CBC )

JD Composites received a $109,000 repayable loan from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). 

They plan on listing the house for sale. If it doesn't sell, they will put it on AirBNB to offer people the chance to rent the one-of-a-kind home.

"We hope it's the future," Saulnier said.

About the Author

Brett Ruskin

Reporter/Videojournalist

Brett Ruskin is a reporter and videojournalist covering everything from local breaking news to national issues. He's based in Halifax.

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