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Extreme glass recycling: The temple of a million beer bottles

24th August 2012

We all have waste glass bottles to get rid of, whether they’re wine bottles, beer bottles or just a bottle of Heinz ketchup! What do you do with yours, throw them away? Recycle them? I bet you hadn’t thought of using them to build a giant temple... And why would you?

But that is exactly what a group of monks have done in a fantastic example of extreme recycling that merges ancient architecture with modern, eco-friendly design.

Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew, or the Million Beer Bottle Temple as it’s affectionately known is situated within Khun Han in Thailand. The project was dreamed up way back in 1984 when the monks began what was to become a massive collection of green Heineken bottles, and brown Chang bottles - a local brew.

Recycled Bottles used to build a temple in Thailand

The Alternative to Landfill

While alcohol might be forbidden in the Buddhist religion, it didn’t stop these monks wanting to do something to reduce the number of beer bottles going to landfill. Of all the alternatives one could have thought of, this ingenious temple design has got to be the best!

But how do you even start to assemble such a building? Firstly, a solid concrete core was needed to provide the temple’s strength, so the rest of the building could be crafted from the beer bottles - over 1.5 million of them.

These Buddhist monks turned simple glass recycling into something that has drawn in crowds of sightseers from around the globe, and will continue to provide both a great tourist attraction and a shelter for many years to come.

Recycled Art

The entire building, from the walls right through to the toilets and the crematorium, is built using the glass bottles. In fact, unlike in traditional glass bottle recycling where only the glass itself gets recycled, the monks have gone further and recycled the lids too by using them to build beautiful artworks in the form of mosaics dotted around the temple!

But what of practicality? Well, the bottles provide great indoor lighting and are super easy to clean so perhaps it’s time we swapped our traditional bricks for something a little more eco-friendly and unique?


Image by Mark Fischer

From Tiny Acorns...

Our favourite part of the whole story is that it inspires both the eco-conscious and the everyday recycler - it shows just how much of a difference we can make if we pull our recycling efforts together, just like the local community in Khun Han, who teamed up to donate beer bottles for the project.

And the monks aren’t ready to stop yet - donations are still being accepted and unless the bottles stop coming in, the monks won’t stop building.

Love the Million Beer Bottle Temple? Stay tuned – we’ll be bringing you more examples of extreme and innovative recycling from around the world, including different but no less amazing uses for bottles in Rio de Janeiro and the Philippines!

Feel inspired? Tell us what you’ve done in the name of extreme recycling below and we may feature you on our blog!

Posted in: Recycling Ideas6 Comments

6 comments for "Extreme glass recycling: The temple of a million beer bottles"

  • Bamidele wrote on January 10th 2013 @ 09:35am

    Amazingly beautiful,this should be in the Guiness Book of Records.

  • Marcia Higgs wrote on December 05th 2012 @ 09:32am

    Absolutely love this. Do you know if there are any structural tutorials to show how this was achieved.

  • Marie wrote on September 24th 2012 @ 01:38pm

    Definitely incredible, so true that we can't tell from a distance that's it's made out of bottles. I'd love to travel there just to see it!

  • Susannah wrote on September 24th 2012 @ 01:38pm

    It's amazing, just shows what you can do when you put your mind to things.

  • James Duval wrote on September 24th 2012 @ 01:37pm

    Great idea. Maybe recycled buildings could be the way forward?

  • Michelle wrote on August 30th 2012 @ 10:20am

    Such a fantastic idea!! You can't tell from a distance that it's made out of bottles, looks just like any other pretty temple, but then you get up close... it's nice to see a prettier side to recycling for once :)

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