Building blocks made from plastic waste
A startup has developed technology that compresses discarded plastic waste into blocks that can be used in construction
Spotted: Plastic waste is a well-documented and well-publicised environmental issue. More than 9 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since the 1950s, and the plastic recycling rate remains stubbornly low to this day. Innovators are looking for new ways of putting discarded plastic to use. For example, advanced recycling—where chemical processes convert hard-to-recycle plastic into a usable raw material—offers one solution. But US startup ByFusion has come up with another: using discarded plastic as a building material.
ByFusion’s eco-friendly process—called ‘Blocker’—uses steam and compression to convert plastic waste into construction blocks – without the use of chemicals. One of the key benefits of this process is that, unlike many forms of plastic recycling, the feedstock does not need to be washed or pre-sorted. All types of plastic can be fed into the system, where they are shredded and fused into the blocks – which are known as ‘ByBlocks’. ByBlocks do not require adhesives, and the system can be operated without specialist labour. In fact, ByFusion offers a ‘Community Blocker’ which can be installed even in small community waste facilities – such as those operated by municipalities.
The ByBlocks that are produced are construction-grade and can be used for applications such as sheds, walls, fencing, landscaping, and furniture. Each block measures 40cm x 20cm x 20cm and weighs around 10 kilogrammes. Unlike their concrete counterparts, ByBlocks don’t crack or crumble. ByBlocks also cause 41 per cent fewer emissions than concrete equivalents.
ByFusion partners with material recovery facilities (MRFs), corporations, and municipalities. The company argues that as the economics of recycling change, a ByFusion Blocker will allow their partners to control recycling costs and make operations more efficient.
Other innovations spotted by Springwise that tackle plastic waste include an advanced recycling system being installed in Scotland, and a water-based recycling process for hard-to-recycle plastics.
Written By: Matthew Hempstead
2nd March 2022