There are myriad of roofing materials available for residential and commercial uses. Most people are aware of the more common materials such as asphalt shingles for residential roofs and rubber roofing for commercial use. But many poorer countries across the globe can’t afford to outfit their roofs with these kinds of materials. Luckily, a team of engineers has developed a type of roofing that is easy to produce and plentiful, plastic soda bottles.

David Saiia and a team have developed a type of thatch roofing composed of discarded plastic soda bottles as part of their research and development at the Duquesne Department of Strategic Management & Sustainability.

The method of turning the bottles into a material is relatively simple itself, the tops and the bottom of the bottle are cut off, the body is flattened out then cut into strips, these are all fastened together with an ultra sonic sealing machine.

The material is surprisingly efficient as a replacement for traditional plant material used in thatch roofing. The soda bottles are lightweight, water tight, don’t rot, block wind and noise and let in ambient light. Traditional thatch roofing quickly rot, did not allow much ambient light, and could often leak and even collapse into the dwelling.

Tin roofs are another popular roofing material for impoverished and rural areas and do a good job of blocking wind and rain in developments, but made for stuffy conditions. When direct sun hits tin roofing, it can cause the interior of the home to heat rapidly. The plastic soda bottle thatch is much more breathable than tin.

The developers found an unexpected benefit of the plastic bottle roofing as well. Over time the roofs began to collect dirt which would usually be deemed negative until plant material began to sprout on the roofs. This turned them in green roofs, which carry their own set of benefits such as superior insulation abilities.

The materials to construct the roofs are cheap, easy to construct, and widely available. The engineers promote the use of the material through the program Reuse Everything and hopes the material will be seen more often.