It was 12 years ago that Brazilian engineer Luiz Antônio Pereira Fomariz from the Amazonas state, in northern Brazil, had the idea of turning PET bottles into tiles that would replace traditional clay ones.
The decision of using plastic bottles as raw material took into consideration the low production costs and the sustainability factor. A PET bottle will take roughly 300 years to decompose in the environment.
Presently, tile manufacturing company Telhas Leve (Light Tiles), established by Fomariz, has 22 employees and posts annual revenues of approximately 1.3 million Brazilian reais (US$ 736,627). Each square meter of the tile costs 39 reais (US$ 22), but despite the higher price than that of traditional tiles, the structure that support the roof sells for one fourth of the conventional price.
The bottles are purchased from 65 cooperatives of collectors in the city of Manaus (capital of Amazonas). The 50 tons of plastic bought each month by Telhas Leve benefit approximately 400 people.
According to the company’s website, the tiles have excellent mechanical resistance and are prepared to resist temperatures of up to 85 degrees Celsius (185 degrees Fahrenheit). Also according to the site, the tiles feature added UV protection, and are thus highly resistant to sun rays. The product’s expected lifespan is 40 years.
The company sells to all of the Brazilian states, the leading buyers being Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, São Paulo, Minas Gerais and the state of Amazonas itself.
Initial investment on the business was 3 million reais (US$ 1.7 million) and, according to Fomariz, Telhas Leve is growing at an annual rate of 5% to 7%. The company does not export yet, but is already making contacts in order to sell to Venezuela.
With regard to the Arab countries, Fomariz claimed that there is an interest in entering the market, and that he is now seeking partners who may take his products to the region. “I am interested in partnerships of all kinds, including those aiming to expand the company and to form societies.”
Those interested in acquiring the PET-bottle tiles can buy them from building material stores, or directly from Telhas Leve’s representatives.