Innovation That Matters

StoneCycling makes building materials from a range of waste streams | Photo source StoneCycling

Recycled bricks tackle waste and emissions

Property & Construction

A Dutch company is making bricks more sustainable by using recycled construction products in their manufacture


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Spotted: According to the UN Environmental Programme, the construction industry accounts for around 11 per cent of total global carbon emissions. Now, Dutch startup StoneCycling is hoping to make a dent in this figure with bricks made from recycled construction debris. The company currently makes recycled bricks containing 60 per cent waste, and in the future expects to bring that figure up to 100 per cent.

Currently, most of the company’s bricks are made up of two to three waste streams, although the company works with 60 waste streams overall, including construction waste such as ceramic toilet bowls, roof tiles, and steel. The waste is sorted, ground, moulded, and fired in a kiln, just like traditional bricks. However, while traditional clay bricks are very energy intensive, the recycled waste bricks can be fired at lower temperatures, so their manufacture releases less carbon.

The type of waste used gives different colours and textures to each collection of bricks. For example, some drive-through Starbucks locations in Europe were built with StoneCycling bricks speckled with white; those are made from crushed toilet bowls. The bricks are especially useful in repairs to historic buildings, as the variation in colour and finish makes the bricks appear more historically accurate. The company also makes BioBased tiles, a tile product that is 300 per cent stronger than concrete blocks and creates 95 per cent less CO2.  

StoneCycling describes its mission as creating, “A circular world where waste is synonymous with raw material. Cities and their buildings will be constructed of building materials that are made from 100 per cent waste, are 100 per cent recyclable at the end of their life cycle, and absorb more carbon than it takes to create them.” The concept was conceived at the Design Academy Eindhoven in around 2009, when then-student Tom van Soest worked on upcycling waste found in vacant buildings. After graduating, Van Soest founded StoneCycling with his friend Ward Massa, who manages business strategy.

In order to reduce carbon emissions, it is vital to improve the sustainability of the construction and materials sector. With the cement industry alone generating somewhere between four and eight per cent of all global man-made carbon emissions, the use of recycled resources is seen as vital. Springwise has seen this in a wide number of recent innovations, including carbon-negative insulation made from grass and construction materials made from plastic waste

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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