Building with the rubble of the past
Fact - the construction industry generates huge amounts of waste. It is a major global issue, with an estimated 2.2 billion tons generated annually. That's roughly the equivalent of throwing away two-thirds of the mass of Mount Everest every year – but it is not all bad news. There are a growing number of companies across the globe that are looking at all that rubbish – and finding innovative new ways to recycle it, writes John Ridgeway
We are now entering a world where discarded plastic bottles become sturdy bricks and shattered glass finds new life as shimmering mosaics adorning buildings. This is no longer a futuristic fantasy, but a tangible reality thanks to innovative minds reimagining the potential of construction waste – and here at Talk.Build we are always happy to publicise any initiative that helps to address this massive problem, so don’t forget to reach out.
Turning plastic into bricks
Companies like ByFusion in America are good example. They are turning plastic waste into ByBlocks, interlocking bricks made from mixed, unwashed plastic. These durable bricks boast impressive strength and insulation properties, while diverting plastic from landfills and oceans.
Each ByBlock uses 22 pounds of plastic and the company aims to recycle 100 million tons of plastic by 2030, a monumental contribution to tackling the plastic crisis. The product boasts an amazing 83% lower CO2 emission compared to traditional concrete blocks, minimising the environmental impact of construction projects.
Looking more closely, we should not underestimate the power of recycled plastic. ByBlocks can withstand significant compression and even outperform concrete in certain strength tests. The air pockets within the blocks provide fantastic thermal insulation, keeping buildings cooler in summer and warmer in winter, leading to reduced energy consumption.
The unique design of ByBlocks also allows for quick and easy installation without requiring mortar or adhesives, saving time and labour costs on construction sites. The company’s vision extends beyond just bricks. They're constantly innovating, exploring new uses for the product – possibly for roads and pavements and even furniture.
Concrete and crushed glass
In other areas of the construction industry, crushed glass is finding a new purpose. This innovative material diverts tons of glass waste from landfills, reducing the environmental impact and conserving precious resources. Every ton of this glass mix replaces roughly a ton of virgin aggregate, making a significant dent in the construction industry's resource footprint.
But glassphalt isn't just about environmental brownie points. The crushed glass, when mixed with traditional concrete, actually strengthens the material. The rough edges of the glass particles interlock with the concrete, creating a denser, more resistant structure.
This means that glassphalt roads are less susceptible to cracks and potholes, leading to longer lifespans and lower maintenance costs. The texture of glassphalt also provides better traction for vehicles, especially in wet weather, enhancing road safety. As crushed glass can reflect light, this can potentially improve nighttime visibility and reduce the need for streetlights in some areas.
The applications of glassphalt goes beyond roads and paving. This versatile material can be used for building foundations, adding strength and durability to structures. The aesthetic appeal of glassphalt, with its subtle sparkle, can also enhance the look of pedestrian walkways and contribute to a more vibrant urban landscape. And crushed glass can be used in decorative landscaping features, adding a unique touch to gardens and parks.
Glassphalt is not just a material, it's a symbol of progress. It represents our ability to innovate, to find value in waste, and to build a more sustainable future. As more cities and countries embrace glassphalt, we can create a world where our roads not only lead us to our destinations but also pave the way for a cleaner, greener planet.
So, remember, every step towards a sustainable future, be it a recycled plastic brick or a road paved with glass, is a step towards a brighter tomorrow. When we choose materials like glassphalt, with stories of environmental consciousness and innovation, we build a world where every road whispers a tale of waste transformed into wonder - and every wall can be a work of art.
- Learn more about glassphalt: https://www.sioneer.com/industries/roads-and-surfaces/: https://www.sioneer.com/industries/roads-and-surfaces/
- Discover other sustainable construction materials: https://www.worldgbc.org/: https://worldgbc.org/
- Get inspired by green infrastructure projects: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/the-new-plastics-economy-rethinking-the-future-of-plastics-and-catalysing: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/the-new-plastics-economy-rethinking-the-future-of-plastics-and-catalysing
- ByFusion: https://www.byfusion.com/
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