The New Building Blocks of a Sustainable Future
As a follow up to our last post on recycling materials into asphalt, we at GreenBuildingSolutions.org have our eye on the latest innovations that are incorporating sustainable design and green building principles to create a better future. One exciting area of innovation is being advanced by several creators who are making new types of sustainable building blocks — essentially turning post-use plastic that might otherwise destined for landfill into upcycled durable bricks that can be reused across different building projects. This helps advance a more circular economy for plastics, reduce plastic waste, and support a more sustainable future.
The first example is called EcoBrick. So how is an EcoBrick made and what kind of projects can it be used for?
These plastic building blocks are made by tightly packing a plastic water bottle with other post use plastic such as chip, garbage and shopping bags, food wrappers, straws and stirrers, and other “single use” plastics.
Currently, EcoBricks can be used for dog houses, tree houses, and other small, personal projects. After future testing, the creator wants to expand the use of EcoBricks by building affordable housing and other larger building projects.
Creating these bricks is not just for professionals. The founder of EcoBrick US, Nathan Gray, encourages people to make their own EcoBricks for various personal projects, and hosts educational workshops at environmental organizations and schools. Not only does building these bricks provide an upcycled alternative building block, but it is also an effective educational tool that brings awareness on the importance of proper waste management — and how reusing these materials can make our world a greener place.
RePlast is another example of how post-use plastics can be reused and is a new building block alternative that is made of machine-compressed plastics found in the ocean – it looks similar to a typical unit of concrete and doesn’t require any binding agents.
The creator, Gregor Gomory, and his team are currently testing possible applications for this new building material.
Will plastic bricks be the building blocks of a more sustainable future? It may be too soon to tell, but without a doubt they are an innovative and efficient way to reduce landfilling and capture value from post-use plastic that is already influencing small scale sustainable design projects.
To see other articles about sustainable design and green building materials, visit the Green Building Solutions blog.