High quality building blocks made from non-recyclable plastic waste

Of the 400 million tonnes of new plastic produced worldwide each year, less than 10% is recycled. This includes the estimated one million plastic bottles sold per minute worldwide, of which less than 50% are recycled and only 7% are reused in new bottles. All of this production without sufficient collection for reuse will result in the amount of plastic waste in our oceans tripling over the next two decades.

Plastic production is a major contributor to climate change and its improper disposal harms ecosystems. Plastic waste is so widespread that it has been found on the tops of the highest mountains, in the Arctic and in the deepest areas of the ocean.

Fortunately, people and businesses are finding ways to put the hardware to good use. A clever approach has been to turn post-consumer plastic into building materials. ByFusion is one of the companies targeting the plastics crisis in this way. It’s a Los Angeles-based startup that developed the Blocker and the ByBlock – a way to make building blocks from plastic waste and the blocks themselves, respectively.

(Credit: ByFusion)
ByBlocks: high quality building blocks made from non-recyclable plastic waste
(Credit: ByFusion)

ByFusion converts plastic waste into ByBlocks using Blocker technology. As a result, people can use the high performance building blocks to build schools, homes, community centers – you name it. It is waterproof, durable and insulating, therefore suitable for different types of climates. Plus, it’s so easy to use, you’ll complete your project faster than with any other building block on the market.

ByFusion said:

The plastic is not the problem. The problem is that we didn’t have a good plan for his future.

Non-recyclable plastic building blocks

All of the qualities that make plastic an invaluable packaging material also make it a strong building material, including the fact that it is resilient, malleable, inexpensive and insulating.

ByFusion’s Blocker system uses only compression and steam to press plastic waste into ByBlocks. It is therefore a clean technology, without greenhouse gases and without waste (a ton of waste makes a ton of ByBlock). Moreover, they do not use any additives, chemicals, adhesives, fillers. All around, ByFusion is the sustainable choice for cleaner, greener projects, and it can be used in projects large or small – from the walls of a home to furniture or fences.

Examples of uses for plastic blocks
(Credit: ByFusion)
Construction with ByFusion blocks
(Credit: ByFusion)
Plastic finished construction
(Credit: ByFusion)

Wall made with plastic waste
(Credit: Boise State Public Radio/ByFusion)

What is particularly remarkable about Blockers is that the machine can reuse any category of plastic, even non-recyclable plastic. Moreover, it does not need to be cleaned or sorted beforehand.

Additionally, the company can produce customizable blocks because its proprietary system is a 100% modular technology platform. However, the standard blocks they supply are 8″x8″x16″, the exact dimensions of a standard CMU (concrete) block.

ByBlock Highlights
(Credit: ByFusion)

The surfaces of the ByBlock are flat but not smooth. Therefore, you can apply drywall, siding and tile to it.

ByBlock Layers
(Credit: ByFusion)

The ByBlock has the same R-value as a CMU, but they are easier to use because they weigh about 10 pounds less and have Lego-like protrusions on top and recesses on the bottom. As such, they can be straight stacked or staggered stacked; no glue or adhesive is needed. This means you save time with faster and easier installation.

ByBlock diagram
(Credit: ByFusion)

Additionally, ByBlocks have two clearance holes that extend through the product, top to bottom. They serve as channels to pass the metal rods (for structural reinforcement).

ByBlock build scheme
(Credit: ByFusion)
ByFusion ByBlock Wall Diagram
(Credit: ByFusion)

Rob Brower, ByFusion advocate and sustainable builder, said after leading a pilot project in Lihue, Kauai:

ByBlocks are mounted quickly and easily. When you see what the finished product looks like, it’s clear that ByBlock is a great way to put plastic waste to a responsible end use. Plus, they seem to have great R-value and sound-dampening qualities.

ByBlock even contributes to LEED credits. Its low-emissions process, minimal materials required for installation, and high rate of plastic waste diversion make it the greenest building block to choose from.

We hear every day about the damage plastic is doing to our planet. Solving the problem of plastic waste is a colossal undertaking that will take more than one company’s initiative to tackle it. But if a company like ByFusion can inspire many people and other companies or governments to build with recycled plastic blocks, it could have a significant impact. Looking at ByFusion’s efforts alongside every other company in the world also producing eco-friendly building materials, we may have a chance.

ByBlock made of non-recyclable plastic waste
(Credit: ByFusion)

Michael Kujawa, Vice President of Product Development at ByFusion who worked with Rob Brower and his team in Hawaii, said:

After they started stacking the wall and cutting out ByBlock, Rob and his team’s imagination started thinking about all the different ways ByBlock could be used. It’s a typical reaction, and it’s energizing to be part of those brainstorming sessions during construction and to witness the excitement of discovery.

More and more people and businesses need to reassess our relationship with plastic and develop ways to use and reuse it in a sustainable way. The plastic pollution crisis can’t get enough ideas like ByFusion’s. The company is committed to reshaping the future of plastic waste by giving it value as a useful and necessary commodity, thereby eliminating its burden on our world. Its ultimate goal is to recycle 100 million tonnes of plastic waste by 2030.

However, on the whole, building materials made from plastic waste are not prevalent in the construction industry. Therefore, the sector needs more encouragement and investment, which will require environmental awareness and political will. However, there is hope because public opinion on the issue is growing as more people become aware of the damage plastic is doing to our world. This means that there is an opening in the construction market for recycled building materials; Additionally, plastic initiatives to replace conventional building materials are likely to increase in the foreseeable future.

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