New Construction Materials Could Solve Plastic Waste Problems

The manufacturing world has embraced plastic due to its versatility and affordability. Plastics, however, are challenging to recycle and the vast majority of plastic bags, bottles, and plastic consumer goods end up packing landfills and polluting landscapes and oceans. This unwanted material has inspired entrepreneurs to rethink the waste as a resource. Their efforts have resulted in lightweight and durable construction materials that incorporate plastic waste.

Coffee Waste Meets Plastic Waste

Coffee drinkers around the world recognize the country of Columbia as a premier grower of the beloved beans. The country, like other coffee-producing regions, must contend with mountains of coffee husks leftover from the bean roasting process. Woodpecker, a Columbian company, combines coffee husk waste with recycled plastic to manufacture interlocking boards for prefabricated houses.

The lightweight boards avoid the challenges of moving heavy materials like bricks or concrete in remote South American areas. The low-cost material enables the company to erect low-cost housing. The smallest units cost only about $4,500 USD.

Recycled HDPE plastic ready to make into lumber. Credit: Shanemurphy22

The Road To Plastic Recycling

Plastic waste has shown great potential as the foundation for new road materials that last longer. Slurries composed of shredded and melted plastic bags, bottles, and food wrappers have been used in place of asphalt on roads in India, Ghana, South Africa, the Philippines, Mexico, and the United States.

Plastic roads resist water penetration and can handle seasonal shifts in temperatures. The founder of the Ocean Recovery Alliance said that plastic road construction could swiftly absorb thousands of tons of plastic waste if used on a large scale.

Recycled plastic voided slab. Credit: Elie Malti

Bricks Stronger Than Concrete

The owner of a Kenyan brick factory uses polypropylene, high-density polyethylene, and low-density polyethylene plastic waste. The process heats the materials and compresses them into bricks and blocks of various sizes. In addition to being lightweight, she says the product has a durability 5 to 7 times that of concrete.

Due to the amount of plastic waste generated every day, do you think construction materials offer the best way to repurpose it? Comment with your thoughts?

ABOUT Woodpecker

A Colombian company that is dedicated to the production and commercialization of products made with WoodPecker ® WPC material which is composed of vegetable fibers and polymer. Its excellent resistance and durability make it an ideal material for the manufacture of innumerable elements for architectural, home construction, industrial, decorative, etc. To date, several construction projects have been developed with our material.

Woodpecker ® WPC is a project that was born from our initiative and we have the support of the Universidad de los Andes (CIPP-CIPEM) and Colciencias.

This alternative construction system is 100% friendly with the environment, manufactured with ecological material with high standards in quality and earthquake-resistant design.

ABOUT Ocean Recovery Alliance

The mission of Ocean Recovery Alliance is to reduce plastic pollution on land and water by creating strategic solutions for governments, industry and communities which lead to long-term, hands-on engaging business practices. Our mission is achieved through purposefully designed programs to educate, build awareness and provide solutions which inspire positive societal change at the community, national and international levels.

We bring together new ways of thinking, technologies, creativity and collaborations in order to introduce innovative projects and initiatives that will help improve our ocean environment.  This includes creating business opportunities for local communities when applicable, in order to address some of the pressing issues that our ocean faces today.

Article Sources

https://www.fastcompany.com/90604018/now-your-coffee-habit-can-help-build-h…
https://e360.yale.edu/features/how-paving-with-plastic-could-make-a-dent-in…
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-kenya-environment-recycling-idUSKBN2A211…

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