In a recent post, I highlighted a Swiss study that questioned whether or not recycling is really the greenest fate for plastic waste.
The reader response was passionate and varied, but one comment stood out: Care2 member Julieta S. wrote, “I think we should start making garbage bricks… some would stand for more than hundreds [of] years… right? (please steal this idea).”
While I had never thought of making bricks from trash, it seemed like a sensible way to build green structures using the ultra-durable plastic waste that’s causing our planet so much trouble.
Here’s what I found…thanks for the idea Julieta!
1. “Ecological Bricks” for Low-Income Housing in Argentina
Argentina’s Experimental Center for Economical Housing (Centro Experimental de la Vivienda Económica – CEVE) has developed a brick made of used food (primarily candy) wrappers and plastic (primarily PET) soda and water bottles.
The raw materials are supplied by Córdoba’s selective collection plant, collection points in schools and government agencies, plus rejects from the local bottling plant.
The plastics are ground up and then mixed with Portland cement and chemical additives to make the bricks (pictured above) and something CEVE calls “brick plates.” The CEVE project hires unemployed youth (between 18-24 years old) to make the bricks. The participants can use the bricks to build their own mini-houses (The Temas Blog).
2. “Byfusion” Machine Makes Building Blocks
It took a New Zealand man 10 years to put together a prototype recycling machine that could turn raw plastic into useful building materials, but now, the “Byfusion” machine is spitting out the building blocks of a multimillion-dollar business.
Peter Lewis’ machine can swallow most types of raw plastic and turn it into compacted plastic bricks or other shapes.
A new brick, formed from over 20 pounds of plastic, emerges from the recycling machine every 30-45 seconds.
The rock-hard bricks can be used for garden retaining or landscaping walls, and have other potential uses including shock absorbers behind crash barriers (Otago Daily Times).
3. Interlocking Polli-Bricks Made From Plastic Bottles
Earlier this year, Taiwan jumped to the front page of green websites all over the world when it was announced that a building commissioned by Far Eastern Group was built using bricks made from 1.5 million plastic botles.
These Polli-Bricks create an interlocking shape that’s light weight and structural at the same time. When connected, Polli-Bricks almost look like a honeycomb. The building, dubbed the EcoARK, can be taken apart and reassembled at another side with relative ease, and was and later donated to city government in Taipei.
Do you know of other cool building techniques that utilize waste? Share them in a comment!
Image Credit: The Temas Blog