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From discarded PET bottles to durable construction material

Members of De La Salle University-Dasmariñas Students in Free Enterprise piling the used PET bottles that will be used as a floor filler to lessen the quantity of gravel, sand, and cement to be used at the Habitat for Humanity housing site in Conchu, Trece Martires, Cavite.

MANILA, Philippines – The De La Salle University-Dasmariñas (DLSU-D) Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), an interest organization that aims to promote its students’ social awareness, community involvement, and entrepreneurial skills, recently held its project dubbed “Build a House for Green Living”.

The brainchild of former faculty of DLSU-D Graduate School of Business Dr. Marlo Sanchez, DLSU-D SIFE introduced the use of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles (the ones used as Nestea or C2 bottles) in building a house at the Habitat for Humanity housing site in Conchu, Trece Martires City, Cavite. Ready to face the scorching heat of the sun and armed with enough bottles provided by DLSU-D’s Environmental Research Management Office, DLSU-D SIFE demonstrated how used PET bottles with its caps could be used as a floor filler to lessen the usage of cement, gravel, and sand. The use of the said bottles proved to be more economical and environment-friendly since it could help reduce garbage.

To test the structural durability of the floor slab, DLSU-D SIFE sought the expertise of Engr. Jericho Samonte, faculty from the University’s College of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology. After rigorous testing, the resulting floor slab still proved to be strong and durable enough for low impact and low stress areas with its 1500 pressure per square inch, despite the lesser quantity of sand, gravel, and cement used. Samonte was also present to discuss with the residents at Habitat for Humanity in Conchu the details of the project. The savings for every 20 houses built using PET bottles as a flooring mix is enough to make one low-cost housing, thus providing more housing opportunities for Filipinos.

The “Build a House for Green Living” of DLSU-D SIFE is not only a means of introducing a more economical and environment-friendly means of building houses. Rather, it is also a venue for students who have a head for business and a heart for the world to impart their time and talent to those who are in need. As one of the volunteers recalls, “it is an overwhelming experience, we enjoyed conducting the project [as well as] the company of the kids and parents” while another utters with a smile that the immersion was a “fun and new experience” for her.

Aside from introducing the PET bottle technology, volunteers also conducted livelihood seminars at the site such as breadmaking, basic bookkeeping and financial management, and the like, which gathered a favorable response from the community. DLSU-D SIFE, recognized as an official member of SIFE Philippines and SIFE International is open to all DLSU-D students whose passion and desire is to help combat poverty in communities outside DLSU-D through sharing their time and talent.

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