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Work Update

[JULY 18][REPURPOSE] Prototype Plastic Roofing ERS Timor-Leste

ERS’s goal is to minimise the per capita negative environmental impact of cities, mainly with the aid of waste management systems. In last four months of us not being in the country, our autonomous business has collected well over 27,000 PET bottles, 11,000 glass bottles and 85kgs of aluminum cans.

With waste management in mind, July team is aiming to create socially beneficial products and services that are tailored to solving the issues in local communities. Bamboo and palms make up a majority of the roofing material in rural Timor-Leste. During the wet season, such roofs are susceptible to water logging and can even collapse in violent storms.

Aiming towards the product being an affordable, sustainable and effective solution, the team set out to make a plastic bottle green thatched roof. Moonshot thinking was the driving factor that defined end goals of the product being –

  • Durable
  • Sustainable
  • Breathable

The article “Plastic Bottles Transformed into Ultimate Green Roofs” by Marc Howe states that –  


‘The resulting plastic thatch serves as a superlative roofing material which combines waterproofing with ventilation. The plastic is as adept at preventing the ingress of water and noise pollution as metallic roofing, yet its transparency and diffuse arrangement in the form of a thatch permits the entry of light and air.’

Empathising with UNTL interns, we found that farmers located in-land will be interested in buying the product. With more empathising and brainstorming, we quickly came to the conclusion that the product will be targeted to the farmers and will be helpful for them to set up cost effective sheds to do their daily chores.

With all this in mind, ERS team developed a bottle thatched roof using scrap wood and flattened plastic bottles. Given the time and materials, we had to change our initial plans on the fly. Re-purposing a wooden pallet kept the costs low while determining the unfortunately low quality of the product. The construction was not structurally sound and lacked attention to detail. Disregarding all the flaws, the roof undertook a rain test. The results were borderline as some of the water managed to seep through the thatched roof.

Even with some negatives, ERS is certain that via iterations, the product can be improved, and initial goals will be achieved. To iterate, the problem will be reframed, and future feasibility will be considered.

Furthermore, in future, we will be using timber planks for the structure and flattening the plastic bottles using an iron, and hopefully finding a way to secure the plastic bottles to the structure alternative to rivets. In the article inspiring the prototype, ultrasonic heating was used to weld the plastic to the underlying metal structure, but given our capabilities and safety concerns, we were unable to complete this in this first prototype. This will have a positive impact on the overall credibility of the product and make it aesthetically pleasing for the buyers.

For now, the thatched roof is put on a side and all the focus is directed towards a small-scale greenhouse. The team is giving it their best to complete the construction in a nick of time.

More details can be found under the document ‘180703 ERS Prototyping PET Bottle Thatched Roof Version 01 PS, SP & SK’.

Watch the video of rain test here - https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipN_FKtWT...jNVZHh4a3NyMmlB

edited on 29th January 2019, 00:01 by Rose Gooding

Harry Telford 5 months ago

Status label added: Work Update

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