Plastic bottles are probably inside more buildings than we’d care to know about, as I’ve personally (and unfortunately) been on enough job sites to see way too many bottles thrown around the job site, outside of trash containers. A large percentage of the bottles that are lucky enough to make it in a dumpster, end up in a landfill where it takes them an estimated 500 years to fully decompose! In an effort to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in our nation’s landfills, one startup company is hoping to turn recycled plastic into the next green construction material.
ByFusion has come up with a mobile process to be able to turn plastics into usable building blocks that mimic the size and shape of a typical CMU block, which they call RePlast. The company can turn 6 of the 7 types of plastics into the building material, with the exception on #6 plastic, due to lack of structural integrity. The ByFusion machine, which converts the plastic into the blocks is completely mobile and can be hauled by a flatbed truck or as a shipping container. Since it’s mobile, ByFusion hopes to send the machines around the country and allow foremen to operate them themselves after an initial training session. Based on the needs for each jobsite, the unit can be operated by either gas or electric and the shape and density of the block can be fully customized. Even the water that is used for the process is recycled and filtered through the machine and can last up to 10-16 weeks before filters need to be changed.
Supported by rebar, RePlast blocks stack on top of each other and do not require glues and adhesives, contributes 95% less greenhouse gas emissions than concrete, and has a high thermal and acoustic insulation rating. According to Mental Floss, ByFusion is only recommending the blocks right now for small load applications, as the plastic cannot hold nearly as large a load as concrete can. It’s also recommended that the walls are clad in mortar to increase UV protection and fire rating. The company will formally conduct ASTM fire rating testing on the product soon. The machine and the blocks are not being sold yet, but the company does have an IndieGogo page to raise money for their first project, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, and to complete testing to make RePlast an approved building material, upgrade the pilot ByFusion machine, and expand manufacturing capabilities.
Check out ByFusion's video below: