What is an ecobrick and why are we making them?

Not too long ago we received a visit from some very cool kids on the SA recycling block. Ian Dommisse, brother of our very own marketing guru Ali, and his partner in recycling crime, Ilze, head up the EcoBrick Exchange in Port Elizabeth. So if all things eco rock your reusable socks then read on, folks.


So what is the EcoBrick Exchange?

The EcoBrick Exchange is a great community upliftment project that focuses on redirecting the life cycle of non recyclable materials. Sound interesting? You bet. All this happens during the creation of an ecobrick.


An ecobrick is a 2L bottle, stuffed to the brim with cellophane, chip packets, sweet wrappers and everything that can’t easily be recycled. The bottle is screwed closed and then used as a building brick. These ecobricks are collected and used to build a new educational facility in Port Elizabeth. Why do we love it so? It alleviates pressure from landfills and a new classroom is being built for more empowerment and education. Ecobricks also help to clean up the streets in townships and teach residents that the trash littering their streets does actually hold value. Pretty powerful stuff, eh?


In order to get us amped about the ease of making ecobricks, Ian got three of us to participate in an ecobrick stuffing competition and brick hunt around Yuppiechef. Marina won and felt quite chuffed with her beautiful, recycled bottle wreath.

What do you need to create an ecobrick?

2L bottles – the same shape as a 2L coke bottle
Material that you know to be non recyclable
A large wooden stick to use to stuff in your filling


So what is considered ecobrick material?

Laminated paper
Photos and transparencies
Polystyrene trays
Plastic fruit punnets
Silvery packets (from chips to chocolates)
P.E.T. trays
Wax paper
Dogfood bags


So, basically anything not friendly to the recycling system, which often consists of items made with various grades of plastic and paper fused together. If you’re wondering why recyclable shopping bags are used, it’s because they form a large proportion of waste in many of our communities and it’s often in these communities that access to a recycling facility is limited. The majority of plastic bags end up in landfills but this way, they become insulation.

How to make an ecobrick

1. Twist waste before inserting into bottle. This makes it a whole lot easier to get inside.
2. Slip your twisted waste into the bottle and compress with a stick.
3. Fill the bottle to the brim with compressed matter. It should weigh about 500g.
4. Celebrate your completed ecobrick – but don’t become too attached.
5. Drop it off at a local business partner and start a new one.
6. If there isn’t anyone in your area yet – you could set this up at a school or even build an ecobench.

Where to take your ecobrick?

So far Ian and his EcoBrick team are based in PE, so if you’re from the windy city, this is your lucky day. Drop off points in PE: Headcandy Hair Salon, Westbourne Road; Grind Cafe, Stanley Street and Tile and Brick, Hugh Road or you can contact Ian and he’ll be able to make a plan.

ecobrick exchange

The EcoBrick team are working on establishing more partners and drop off points in other cities so, if you’re keen to get involved, jump up and down so we can see you. And give Ian a call.

eco brick demo

For now, support the EcoBrick Exchange on their facebook page and check out the EcoBrick exchange website to stay in touch with their upcoming projects and events. We all love to cook but sometimes our foods don’t come in the best environmentally friendly packaging. Until those problems are resolved, you can responsibly dispose of non recyclables and put them to good use with ecobricks. Whoopa.