Transforming Plastic Waste Into Eco-Friendly Building Materials

Apr 19, 2022

Story of Plastic

The Global threat from plastic waste has been constantly increasing reaching an epidemic situation. According to the Ocean Conservancy, NY based group “Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean stream every year, on top of the approximate 150 million metric tons that are currently circulating our marine environments.” This calls for an emergence to innovate new ways to recycle and reuse plastic waste. Over the past decade there have been several ways to reduce the use of plastic and numerous initiatives recreating plastic waste to usable products, gears, furniture, and Building Materials. If plastics can be made into Building Materials, how are they made? What can they be used for? We explore two interesting products and how they came to production!

But first, why is Plastic waste suitable for Construction Industry?

Plastic products & materials last forever without breaking down, it seems sensible to find ways to convert plastic waste to usable construction materials. Characteristics of plastic like strength, waterproof & resistance capacity, durability, and especially lightweight and easily moldable material show logical advantage for use of construction. These innate properties of plastic - malleability, insulation, and its tendency to not degrade easily, makes it one of the most powerful building materials.

How can plastic waste be turned into construction material?

Plastic waste is grinded into flakes, placed into a mold, and melted once it is in a plasma state. Pressure is then applied on it to produce the raw material for construction products.

Silica Plastic Blocks, Rhino Machines

Rhino Machines from India developed a sustainable building block made from plastic waste called – “Silica Plastic Block.” These blocks are made from 80% dust & 20% shredded plastic, each block uses about 250 plastic covers to make one brick or paver block. Silica Plastic Block – SPB makes an effort to reduce the plastic waste a human consumes approximately for about 4 months! SPB also attempts to reduce the massive dust & silica waste, limiting overall pollution & lowering the environment hazard.

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How are SPB made?

In collaboration with R+D labs, SPB production experimented with different combinations of plastic wastes, dust, and admixtures as bonding agents. The initial product involved use of more natural resources and admixtures to create a stable block. Rhino Machines & R+D labs continued testing until SPB could be claimed as a product made from plastic and was also a result of zero waste production.

The magic formula was attained when plastic was used as bonding agent instead of natural fertile soil & cement, the need for water during mixing & curing was eliminated. This resulted in a block that can be used directly after the molding process. (After allowing it to cool naturally at room temperature)

Are they strong & durable compared to traditional materials?

SPBs were evaluated to have 2.5 times the strength of clay bricks and it consumed 80% lesser natural materials competitively. SPB are now available in blocks & paver forms, here’s illustrative information on SPB & Paver block comparison.

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Silica Plastic Blocks are available in the following configuration:

  1. The Basic Brick
  2. The Lego Brick
  3. The Zig-Zag Paver
  4. The Square Paver
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Application of Silica Plastic Blocks

SPBs can be used to build partition walls, waterproof walls for toilets, it can be used for pavers, and driveways. SPBs are also experimented to create outdoor furniture, quirky products & decors.

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Plastic Boards & Furniture, Samsara

Samsara is another Indian Based Recycle Company that designs with materials that are considered as “waste” Samsara, The Recycle Company’s first exploration with plastic waste material and their Precious Plastic Machine manufactured plastic boards that are very similar to terrazzo material.

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Story of Samsara!

Founders of Samsara are conscious individuals driving a massive change in creating an ecosystem that reduces the use of plastic and reuses to reduce the impact of the 105 million metric ton of plastic that currently circulate our environment. As mindful designers they are constantly creating products which are functional and reduce ecological impact.

What they do?

The first step of the process is to collect the plastic waste from vendors - sort them, shred, and wash. The shredded plastics are generally of three different types with varied properties. The shredded plastics are used in combination to achieve desired color and characteristic for appropriate application.

The cleaned plastic is then compressed, and heat molded into sheets of 4ft x 4ft of thickness varying from 6mm to 25mm.

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Application of Plastic Boards

These versatile sheets can be used in various interior applications. 4ft x 4ft sheets can be used as tabletops, molded to furniture and other décor. The sheets can also be used as cladding material and false ceiling. The aesthetics of the sheets are like composite terrazzo material with inherited properties of different plastic waste.

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Want to experiment with Building Materials made of Plastic?

As creators, Designers and Architects you can explore materials that can reduce the carbon footprint throughout the lifecycle of the building and embodied carbon. If you want to make a conscious material selection that meets extreme requirements. You can now browse for Building Materials on Arkihive to get multiple quotes on materials and make an informed decision!



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Anusha Ashok

I believe only art can change the world! Although, I constantly critique the design approach & in dispute with my belief. But usually found having tea & listening to Coldplay.