When we throw a plastic container away, we usually don’t think about what happens to it after it leaves our sight.
It turns out that many plastic items we use every day are not able to be recycled. Americans alone dispose of 42 million tons of single-use plastics each year, and only 9 percent of that waste can be turned into something else. The rest ends up in landfills, or worse, the ocean.
A startup company in Los Angeles, California has devised an ingenious way to put all that plastic waste to good use. ByFusion was founded in 2017 in an effort to undo some of the environmental damage caused by discarded plastic.
“Plastic was not invented to be thrown away,” they state on their website. “Plastic is strong, flexible, and built to last. This is why plastic isn’t the problem. The problem is that we didn’t have a good plan for its future. So now it is packed into landfills, burned at the edges of towns sending toxic smoke into the air, and there are continents of it floating at sea killing precious wildlife.”
Their solution? Creating giant Lego-style building blocks using patented steam compression machines called Blockers.
Raw, unwashed plastic waste is fed into the Blocker and squeezed into ByBlocks, which can then be used in place of traditional cement blocks and other building materials. ByBlocks require no glues or adhesives and are 10 pounds lighter than cement blocks, making installation quicker and easier. They won’t crumble or decay like concrete blocks would, and there’s no special labor involved to use them. They also create zero waste to make — 1 ton of plastic equals 1 ton of ByBlock.
So far, ByFusion has recycled 103 tons of plastic using their ByBlock system! They’ve partnered with several U.S. cities to install Blocker facilities, and more are soon to follow.
One amazing example of local impact occurred on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where ByFusion was able to collect marine debris and fishing nets from the ocean, turn the waste into ByBlocks, and build a pavillion for a local school.
ByFusion is currently able to process 450 tons of plastic a year out of their L.A. production facility, and there are 12 more Blockers arriving in U.S. cities in the coming years. “Our primary goal is to get a Blocker in every city, to enable every city to capture their own recyclable waste,” said founder Heidi Kujawa.
The company has set a goal to recycle 100 million tons of plastic waste by 2030, and their founder thinks the number is within reach. “If we get 9,000 Blocker systems installed around the world by 2025, together we can hit our 100-million-ton goal,” she said.
This seems almost too good to be true! Finding a way to turn waste into useful, durable, and affordable building materials has to be the wave of the future. We wish ByFusion the best of luck as they continue find solutions to this critical environmental issue.
Watch the video below to see ByBlocks being put to use, and don’t forget to share.
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