In an attempt to get plastic waste permanently out of our oceans and landfills, U.S.-based startup ByFusion creates construction blocks that can be used for building out of recycled plastic waste. According to their website, ByFusion is a modular technology capable of converting all types of waste plastic into a building material called RePlast. Easy to transport from one location to another, the machine has the potential to provide a solution to the problem of plastic waste while creating a more green building material. And although the machine is currently run on propane gas or electricity, the team is exploring options to power the machine using solar energy.
RePlast, which is customizable, can be used for a variety of applications, and is currently configured to produce blocks the size of common concrete blocks. The blocks promise to have 95% lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GhG) when compared to regular concrete blocks and higher thermal and acoustic insulation. ByFusion emphasizes that the processing of all types of plastic waste is completely streamlined, meaning that no preparation of the plastic materials, such as sorting or pre-washing, is required, and the manufacturing process is almost 100% carbon-neutral. Moreover, the ByFusion system can process all types of plastic waste without separating them.
Still in the pilot phase, the upcycled blocks have potential to integrate plastic into the circular economy. Although an estimated 300 million tons of plastic are produced annually, only 8% of the 32 million tons of plastic produced in the U.S. alone are recycled. The remaining waste plastic is often incinerated, piled into landfills, or dumped into oceans and waterways.
The blocks, which require no glue or adhesives and are placed on steel shafts, weigh between 8-27 lbs (3.5-12 kg). The blocks can be used to build walls, non-inhabited structures such as park facilities, warehouses or rest areas in the U.S; outside of the U.S., RePlast can be used to build single-story houses.
According to the team’s website, using the blocks “can contribute to LEED certification for construction and communities,” although it is not clear how.
ByFusion, which is run by a small team of five, including Gregor Gomory, Heidi Kujawa, Steve Rocco, Peter Lewis and Lew Hinman, attempts to address the growing problem of ocean plastic waste. The company hopes to stop the vicious cycle of ocean plastic waste being gathered and recycled, only to end up in the oceans once again by using plastic waste to build commercial and residential projects.
Earlier this year, the company launched an indiegogo campaign with the promise to have the machines available for sale by May 2017. In June, ByFusion partnered up with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii (SCH) to process plastic waste collected on the coastlines and inshore waters of the Hawaiian Islands into building blocks that can be used locally.
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