Donald Thomson and his wife Terry-Lee, who have lived in Costa Rica since 1990, began organizing a volunteer beach-cleaning initiative to clean up the massive amounts of plastic that washed up on the beaches of Playa Pochote. After watching children jumping on the plastic bottles to flatten them, Thomson had an idea: to recycle plastic into building materials for low-income families.
Agua Costa Rica, Thomson’s company, uses recycled plastic to create bottles which are filled with water collected near Juan Castro Blanco National Park. After use, the bottles are collected and pressed into granite-colored tiles. Reused packing materials are injected into the the bottles to serve as an insulator and add color. The bottles of water will be sold with a small deposit to encourage buyers to recycle them. Thomson calls the process “out-cycling”: taking a waste product (plastic), turning it into a new product (recycled plastic bottles), and then turning it into another product (the roof tiles).