Plastic waste is everywhere you look, and there’s seemingly no end in sight for both the demand and production of plastic goods. So isn’t it time to try putting all that waste from the plastic industry to good use? [Nzambi Matee], a materials engineer in Kenya, thinks so. She was tired of seeing plastic littering the streets of Nairobi, and saw an opportunity to solve two problems at once — cleaning up the streets and paving them with plastic.
Three years ago, [Nzambi] quit her job as an oil industry data analyst and used all her savings to pursue a solution for the pesky plastic problem. She built a lab in her mother’s backyard and begin experimenting with plastics and sand, melding them together to make blocks.
After about a year of trial and error, she had discovered which plastics worked and which didn’t. Then she developed machinery to churn out the sand-plastic paste and stamp it into sturdy paving bricks. Her company Gjenge Makers gets most of their plastic free from factories that would otherwise have to pay to dispose of it. The bricks are strong, lightweight, and nearly indestructible compared to concrete pavers. In the video after the break, there’s a shot of [Nzambi] spiking one on the ground to demonstrate its toughness.
Now, her company produces about 1,500 of these pavers each day. [Nzambi] and her team are planning to start making building blocks as well. With a melting point somewhere above 350° C, the material seems pretty well-suited for that purpose.
Want to do more than just recycle your plastic, but don’t know how? You could start by turning plastic bottles into rope, and then use the rope to make things like brooms and brushes.
Thanks for the tip, [foamyguy]!
102 thoughts on “These Plastic Pavers Are Earth Savers”
One word to describe why this is a terribly bad idea – Microplastics
One could say tires are worse.
Adding microplastics shedding off of these bricks due to wear wouldn’t exactly help the situation, would it.
Wouldn’t the act of cutting the bricks (as shown in the video) release those microplastics as well? :O
Yup. And trimming off casting sprue would as well.
Hopefully those cuttings and “sawdust” are collected and put back in the hopper for reuse, but maybe not if there’d be a risk of dirt contaminating a whole pot of plastic.
How are microplastics remotely related to the process described here?
As the bricks wear, the plastic content will scrape off and be washed away by rain.
So to summarize, your solution is just – eliminate all plastic?
il light the furnace.
alternatively keep the bricks out of the weather. like use them in home construction or interior flooring. even used outdoors its likely to erode less than the trash all over the place, and in a more controllable manor. its especially nice if the bricks can be recycled after they wear down and break.
Use it in applications where it isn’t exposed to lots of friction or UV. Indoor walls, for example. Or internal courses of bricks in brick planters, where the outer facade is regular brick or tile.
It’s a common misconception to think the one who sees a problem needs also to have the solution to have the right to point it out.
One thing to consider – A brick has less surface area for erosion by the elements than individual pieses of garbage. Can’t comment on wear & tear on the road without a proper study.
Iwould appreciate house-sized lego bricks from plastic. Reasonably designed would carry good weight of few floors, roof and snow, and they would last for eternity. Even the roof construction could be made from them, if you screw them together with threaded rods.
What exactly do you think would have happened to the plastic waste these bricks are made from otherwise? It’s hardly going to be towed outside the environment.
If it were post-consumer waste collected from the environment, had i not been put into bricks it would probably break down more slowly and into larger pieces, rather than have tiny particles ground off by passing feet and tires.
But it’s post-industrial waste, probably offcuts and swarf and whatnot. So it wasn’t out in the environment yet anyway. Hard to say where it would have ended up. Maybe dumped in a landfill and covered, maybe incinerated, maybe dumped recklessly where particles could blow away into nearby watercourses, maybe recycled.
Turning the plastic waste into bricks requires a plan to collect all the waste.
You can use the same plan and then burn the waste for electricity.
Burn it for energy. It has all the chemical energy inside of it that the oil it was made from contained.
They’d be buried in a landfill where they would probably degrade more slowly because people and vehicles wouldn’t be walking/driving over them.
I think these bricks might be fine as the interior walls of a warehouse. I’d be curious if they offer good insulation properties, I suspect the sand makes them stable and retain heat through the night.
But under sunlight (UV) and foot traffic, it seems like they’d shed plastic like crazy. That shed plastic get all over and blows into people’s houses.
Ideally we should make and use less plastic. Take the stuff we have and burn it in a power incinerator. Carbon dioxide and carbon dust (soot) is far less problematic than microplastics. We harp on the global warming thing but a persistant health hazard, also known as pollution, has always been the higher priority.
With the plastic binder for all that sand I expect you could create rather hollow bricks that are still very load capable and tough but have better insulatitive properties for when that matters – the mix and match approach in building design, good thermal mass to regulate the daily temperature swings, better insulation to keep pesky outside temps out…
With the state of plastics in the environment this is still a massive win, bottling most of the plastic waste up in solid lumps, with only tiny worn off particles ever getting out – which being tiny are easier for microbes to break down. If far better than leaving it littering the globe in piles, landfills that are bound to be erroded or exposed eventually – burning works, but you have to damn sure its a full combustion and filtered output or you just throw lots of microplastic soot and toxic gasses everywhere…
I’m not even sure I agree we should make and use less plastic, what we do need to be is wiser in how we use and recycle it, that is for certain. But better alternatives to food preservation for instance are basically non-existent, it makes a more sensible outer shell for most electronics than more ‘renewable’ resources like wood/bamboo’s.
we still use glass jars and steel cans for long term food preservation. depending on the plastic, it can be quite inferior to glass because it is still gas permeable. it does make single serve packaging possible, but that in itself is also wasteful. I think important plastics would be things like polystyrene used in insulation for refrigeration and coolers. I think I would draw the distinction between components of a long-lived product and single use packaging. Then the extra cost of “bio-styrene” doesn’t pose quite a big of a hurdle and we can cease producing petroleum-based polystyrene.
If the plastics are already littering the streets…
Yes but those aren’t subjected to wear by feet and tires and whatnot.
Those are subjected to wear by the environment.
Belt sander > foot traffic > sand/water erosion
Is it, though? Sure, these will release microplastics over time, but is it worse for the environment than dumping all this plastic in some landfill or letting the plastic trash sit on the streets? Also, don’t forget the effects of concrete dust as well and making of those blocks in the first place as well.
I have no idea if these plastic bricks are better or worse for the environment given the alternative, but I’d say neither do you.
The trouble with plastic particles is the fact that the enzymes used by living organisms can only attack the ends of the polymer strands, and a macroscopic piece of plastic doesn’t have a lot of surface area where the ends would be sticking out, so it takes a long time to break into smaller bits.
The definition of “microplastics” is a bit misleading, since it is counting particles up to 5 mm in size, and these particles break down mainly by UV light and mechanical abrasion. Getting down from a plastic bottle to these still macroscopic bits can take decades depending on the type of plastic. Possibly hundreds of years if they are buried away from UV light. Once the pieces get down to actual microscopic sizes, they are much faster removed from the environment. If you ground up the same piece of plastic into fine powder, it would be eaten up in a year or two.
So the abrasion of tiny plastic particles out of a plastic reinforced sand brick is not a big problem. First of all it is an extremely slow process resulting in a low environmental load, and secondly the particles have large surface areas and are consumed by bacteria that naturally eat long chain hydrocarbons such as naturally occurring bitumen and lignin anyways.
Whether this would cause an increase in microplastic pollution in waterways or not depends on many parameters we know nothing about: the source of the waste plastic (and type), how it would otherwise be disposed, brick composition and composite binding strength, how the bricks wear down, and much more. We clearly do not know nearly enough to make a judgement. But given Kenya’s serious plastic waste and waste handling challenges, I’d be surprised if this wasn’t a net positive that would reduce plastic and microplastic pollution.
That and the fact that they are off gassing plastisizers into the environment which are hormone disruptors, the sort of thing that accelerates obesity and diabetes, and those diseases make you more vulnerable to viral diseases such as covid-19 or influensa.
It has its flaws, but it is 99 steps forward and one step back. I’d rather see them captured in a brick than floating in a river or ocean.
Awesome, I love her energy and passion, I hope this venture becomes successful.
This is excellent. Some plastics, like polyethylene (HDPE/LDPE, or #2/#4) can be melted down a few times with minimal losses at <350F.
It's difficult to thresh PE waste because of its rigidity and malleability, but it's easy to make a kiln that can make bricks of it, and those bricks have excellent physical properties.
The biggest downside is probably that they are too flammable to use in low-cost architecture, but these remelted PE bricks also make excellent CNC stock. Light, strong, self-lubricating.
Do you have some documentation about this ?
I kinda doubt they are any more flammable than wood. Maybe more toxic if burned, but if you throw in a few solar panels to eliminate kerosene lights while you’re at it the net effect will probably be less fires.
don’t forget that in this example she mixes the plastic with sand so i think the resulting bricks would be almost non combustible depending on the ratio.
you could dope it with some bromine compounds (flame retardants) and make it very resistant to fire. Most house materials aren’t designed to be completely fire proof, they are designed to keep back a fire for a certain amount of time.
but every time you add a chemical to a product you need to weigh the long-term health risks against the function. if undoped plastic is good enough for a residential building, then use that instead of adding flame retardant. The right answer is probably complicated and both kinds of bricks should be produced and used in the appropriate instant to meet requirements with the least risk.
I wouldn’t bother with flame retardant on pavers. It’s really difficult to catch the floor on fire when the ground acts has a big heat sink and plastic is not terribly flammable until you bring it up to a significant temperature. Your whole house could burn down, but your slab floor will be scorched but intact. (your elevated flooring will be gone of course)
Wouldn’t flammability depend on the ratio of sand to plastic (and probably particle size and preponderance of voids in the composite)? It wouldn’t surprise me if these bricks are pretty resistant to burning, even without fire retardant additives.
Will be awesome to see more DIY and homebrew extrusion methods to make sheets from recycled plastics for lining not only subterranean structures, sides and roofs or whatever other project or utility. I personally think lining basements are best for the recycled materials if going to bury anyway. Siding and roofs next I’m thinking if not roofs first… even if only as membrane liners.
Trips me out how the 3D printers including the 3D printer pens can be used to make or repair car parts… like I never thought about until earlier today to just 3D print replacement mud flaps (or whatever they’re called on the prius) and possibly some other parts to even just plastic weld and repair other broken pieces. Strange how I can even use the 3D Printer pen to repair some of the parts. Even if I use a plastic welder to weld together with the larger part.
I have been thinking about printing though for some time the custom bumper guard pieces, say like for the inverter and engine shutters. That’s custom parts though. Was strange like… oh duh moment, make replacement parts too! More reason to see how well the Kinect works for scanning and reproducing parts when I receive the power supply USB adapter tomorrow.
Wondering what the issues are with using for building walls? Sag or something? Re-enforced Concrete (RC) designs maybe where the plastic fills in the non-load bearing applications.
Kind of like vinyl material use in construction now for trim too.
Maybe if only just like ICF forms maybe even to be easier to produce for communal cost effective production products?
Do these bricks float in water? Are they cemented in place. Stone and brick have high density that keeps them in place during floods and wind.
It is mixed with sand in the process. Presumably they add enough to have negative buoyancy.
Butt Welding – Mirror Welding – Hot Plate Welding That will keep them in place. And some plastering on top to shield from UV and prevent fire.
thermal expension would like to have a word with you…
Good call on inspiration for recycling to make floating systems too. House boat and barge pontoons man. There you go. More reason to inspire for DIY homebrew larger extrusion designs.
Reminds me that I’ve wondered about seam welding or press smoothing the barrels for more making more hydrodynamic designs of like I’ve seen in Asia barrel made canoes or boats.
This is an absolutely horrible idea. Not only will these plastics outgas and emit horrible chemicals when exposed to the sun, but these chemicals will be washed all over the place when it rains.
And they wouldn’t do that as plastic waste littering the environment why?
Is this not going to happen to the original plastics anyway? It’s not as if new plastic is introduced into the environment via this method. At least in brick form the surface area exposed to the environment is dramatically minimized.
Using them as pavers is possibly not so good as wear & tear will leach plastics into the environment. But as a structural brick that can be plastered into a wall? It’s a clever way to sequester large amounts of carbon into an inert form.
It’s possible also that the sand inclusion mitigates UV penetration, leading to slower degradation.
Written by someone that’s consuming 10 tons of plastic per year. Nice.
I wonder if they would have made that comment if it wasn’t a black woman who put the work into solving this issue…
There is little negativity when I see articles (not necessarily here) on, say, rubber/plastic inclusion in bitumen/tarmac as a way to use up waste tyres/etc.
I’m sure there are some potential side-effects. Are they worse than the alternatives? Are they worse than the alternatives that are viable for the economy and situation in the places they are being deployed? Quite possibly the article could have explored more about these aspects, or the materials work done to mitigate issues.
Is this really more efficient than bricks, which are literally made of dirt?
well, there’s no need to make portland cement (very high energy cost) and there’s no firing needed (also very high energy cost). Plus the sand (or aggregate) needed could be any kind of sand or aggregate, doesn’t need to be quartz sand, which is of finite quantity.
Most pavers are made of concrete, rather than conventional brick, so there is the environmental cost of concrete to be considered.
Both cement (for concrete) and (fired) bricks are more energy intensive than this.
I see this as using waste plastic as a substitute for bitumen in tarmac / asphalt. Is tarmac a source of microplastic or microplastic analogues?
If they are being made to be used *where a good old clay brick could be used* (instead of concrete pavers and such), then you’re right. You can’t beat the energy used to mix water and clay and put it out in the sun to dry. Plus they’re not flammable, won’t gas off and won’t leach microplastics back into the environment.
A brick has to be fired in a kiln to sinter the particles together. Otherwise it will wash down back to mud in the next rain.
There are plenty of places where unfired bricks can be used. For example, cement/stucco covered wall, where the brick makes the bulk of the structure and the stucco serves as the finishing and protection layer.
Both valid points from slim.w and Andy, above. It certainly is energy-intensive to create bricks, be they pavers or classic clay bricks.
I’m mostly just wondering about clay brick production though, since concrete production does emit a good deal of co2 directly from the chemical reaction (regardless of the energy source powering it.)
What about making a hollow fired-clay brick, and injecting plastic into the inner void? It could provide a hard exterior wear surface whose abrasion products are just clay. This would solve the microplastic problem by preventing the plastic from being abraded.
This would be a tricky material science problem though, since the plastic would need to bond firmly with the fired clay to prevent water ingress (for freeze-thaw cycle resistance), and would need to keep it under tension for maximum strength. I’m only an armchair material scientist, but my gut feeling is that we’d need a chemical bond between plastic and brick.
“(for freeze-thaw cycle resistance)”
Climate change. :-D
It’s better than littering the streets or tossed in the bin – in *both* cases they’re just going to break down to microplastics eventually, so those of you complaining about the wear aren’t really helping anything.
From best to worst your options are:
(1) don’t make plastics in the first place
(2) burn the plastics for fuel, capturing off-gasses
(3) make something useful from them for long term capture (where they want to move the technology here)
(4) make something useful for surface use (this is the method they’re currently pursuing)
(5) leave them to in street / toss them in ‘the trash’ to break down uselessly to microplastics (*this is where we are now*)
1) Is the only viable solution. But it’s a solution no-one wants.
2) Burning plastic releases chemicals you don’t want to release anywhere even at minuscule concentration. So don’t do that. Filters fail. People dies when it happens.
3) Ideally, you might want to convert them to tar again. Wait, isn’t that solution 1?
5) No, what we now is even worst than that. Microplastic would already be better than dump complete plastic stuff to the ocean and let the sealife dying from digesting them.
I suggest watching the YouTube channel of “Ocean Conservation Namibia”.
It’s just a video every few days of some guys in Namibia rescuing cute baby seals from man-made trash.
You get your daily cute-fix, plus an idea of the scale of the problem.
Exactly! Thanks for the link.
“2) Burning plastic releases chemicals you don’t want to release anywhere even at minuscule concentration. So don’t do that. Filters fail. People dies when it happens.”
In backyard trash barrel temperatures this is true. My understanding is that at proper incinerator temperatures you just get CO2 and maybe some H2O. Not that we really want to release more CO2 but I don’t think that’s what you are talking about here.
Is my understanding wrong?
I know various cement plants burn used tires for fuel with no problem but it’s also at 2000 plus degrees and there are EPA approved filters on the exhaust stacks. So maybe this plastic waste could be burned the same way.
Get’s me thinking street and ditch vacuums as a mining process to recover catalytic converter waste also maybe as incentive to clean too.
Seems maybe use that plastic recovered in the mobile sluce or separator for like a number (2) option.
It depends. You do need quite a bit of energy to turn dirt into a brick (firing). Unless you live in a place where it doesn’t rain: then you can go unfired (aka adobe).
It will mainly depend on what you’d otherwise do with those waste plastics (pro tip: best, don’t waste; humankind seems far too stupid to grok that simple thing).
Clay bricks can be made without any firing, and they work just find as long as you use them for the correct purposes.
To be fair here.
Microplastis is already a major issue world wide, bricks like these doesn’t help with that situation.
Mainly due to abrasion over time.
These bricks could see better use as mill stock for various projects.
Or the plastic waste going into the brick production can be cleaned more thoroughly and large be put back into new plastic products. Instead of shoehorning it into an application that plastics frankly are fairly bad at.
In regards to making bricks, there is no real reason for why other more traditional materials can’t be used.
A fairly cheap one is regular stone, cutting it isn’t all that energy intensive.
It might be an economic success.
It might be a political success.
And it might even seem “good” on the surface.
But that doesn’t make it good. Just like leaded petrol seems like a good idea, or putting Freon into spray cans.
In the end, these plastic bricks aren’t a good idea.
Even if they are more sturdy then stone ones.
“Microplastis is already a major issue world wide, bricks like these doesn’t help with that situation.” — Um, you completely ignored the fact that she is from Kenya and there’s all this plastic trash literally all over the place. Recycling even a small part of that plastic into more durable bricks does help.
“Or the plastic waste going into the brick production can be cleaned more thoroughly and large be put back into new plastic products.” — Yes, if there was someone with the required facilities to do all that and someone to pay for it all. Again, she comes from the poorer parts of the world and, from what I gather, all this stuff has a tendency of just being dumped in a landfill or thrown away on the side of the road.
Ifs and buts and whatnots are all good, but they don’t help anyone, if they ignore the prevailing economic situation.
If one collects random piece of plastic from a dump/landfill or collecting trash from shores and nature then yes, it would be a lot less clean and need a fair bit more processing for it to be turned into something that could be used in the manufacturing of various plastic products.
But now that isn’t the source discussed in the project above.
The waste talked about and shown is industrial waste, a fairly clean product not contaminated with much to speak of. Reprocessing this into useful plastic pellets wouldn’t be hard, especially if the type of plastic is characterized, then it is even easier. (Some factories do this in house already…)
Now, most factories do know what plastic pellets they buy, so they do know what type of plastic waste they produce. Though, if they handle many different types and throw it all in the same bin, then yes, that complicates matters. But that is another problem in the chain that can be fixed as well.
In short, taking a relatively easily recyclable source of plastic waste and mixing it with sand to make bricks isn’t the most useful degree of recycling that we could have had in this situation.
You are applying European 1st world standards of pollution mitigation to a poor country that doesn;’t have billions in Euro;s or dollars to throw at problem nor a government that can really enforce environmental laws.
Furthermore a lot of factories producing this sort of waste have relocated to 3rd world countries such as Kenya in order to avoid any environment rules.
IOW she is doing the best she can.
It’s better than doing nothing or complaining when a person tries to find a solution.
I think you miss my point….
If you have a clean useable source of a material that can easily be reused, then it is generally beneficial to reuse it, instead of making the material less clean than its current state.
Now the main problem with the plastic waste she has on offer is that it has a wide arrangement of colors, she could sort the colors, but that is likely not all that practical.
But even a gray-ish plastic pellet is a useful pellet in a lot of production environments to be fair, especially if one can properly label the type of plastic that it is made of.
And to encourage the factories to do a better job, one can pay them a nominal fee for keeping track of the type of plastic they put into their bins. Potentially might get the factories to even sort based on color.
From a practical standpoint, she is taking grade B vegetables and turning them to compost, despite that they are still perfectly fine for consumption.
It is a bit like scrapping a car just because it has reached ten thousand miles, a journey that is a fairly small fraction of what a car is built to last.
Think about scale, you can’t make pavement for a city from stone (unless you live in Himalaya). It’s not a question of energy, it’s a question of resources. Stone are not available, or they are too far that transport will create too much CO2 for a worthwhile investment. Re-using plastic like this, where only a single side of the pavement is being teared off, is way better than leaving the plastic bottle degrades from every direction and finish in the ocean. Sure it would be better to recycle 100% of it, but it’s not the case. Recycling plastic is hard, really hard.
Because of the numerous quality/standard you expect from the material, that’s almost impossible to guarantee once recycled. If, in the opposite, you use the recycled stuff for a lower quality stuff (like a brick), you open the possibility of an economical reuse. This is good.
Recycling plastics can be done relatively effectively. Depending on the quality desired.
Not all products needs the highest quality plastics.
And spending time actually recycling plastic for re use in new plastic products other than bricks will only help to spur on more research and development in plastics recycling. Something that is already well underway as is.
Transporting stone might seem problematic, until one considers the relatively low cost of transporting objects. Both trucks and trains do it for relatively cheap, not to mention ships.
In regards to volume, the Himalaya is a lot lot more stone that is needed to pave all the world’s cities and roads more than once. Not to mention that there is plenty of other sources for stone as well. Rock is frankly a very common resource, though if one’s local verity is suitable as pavement is another question.
The problem with plastic as pavement is frankly that it will generate microplastics that get into everything. It isn’t a good thing for most organisms.
Reducing microplastics is just as important as reducing plastic waste in nature at large. The effects on the environment is similar for both cases. Microplastics are though harder to see and yes a lot of people follow the trend, “out of sight, out of mind.”
These bricks frankly aren’t a good solution for plastics recycling.
For plastic storage, a brick is a good form factor, until it got diluted with sand…
IOW she would have been better off to do nothing. Got it. 1st world thinking at it’s finest.
My statement were rather.
She could make better use of the plastic by simply making it into pellets and selling it as recycled plastic pellets. Something a fair few companies are interested in buying.
You can make pavement for a city from stone, search for “portuguese coble stone”. It’s expensive but it lasts almost forever and it’s easily fixable. It can become slightly slippery when wet in places with heavy foot traffic
Waw the level of typical 1st world patronizing is heavy here (do it the right way or don’t do it).
It’s a good pragmatic solution for this country, not the best one but it doesn’t matter here.
If you have ever been in a developing country, or even southern Europe, you know that plastics are a major problem.
Major in a sense when you build a fence in red sea desert, it will turn into a plastic fence quickly.
Major in a sense every rivers and sea shore is littered with plastic.
Either you burn them or you find other way to store them until The Best Right Solution(tm) is effective. The former being banned by 1st world treaties.
I’ve no idea where you place the limit for developing country, but I can tell you that southern Europe is not a developing country (or third world, as you intended). Even north Africa is not. Whenever the pandemic is done, I invite you to visit such countries, you’d be amazed to see people live like the western world.
Living in Kenya, our plastic problem is because of our corrupt leaders . Also using these bring in roads is a terrible idea, rain season combined with heavy vehicles creates a disaster of micro – plastics released into our rivers.
plastic = 5% du pétrole consommé ?
I wonder what the cold flow and creep properties of the sand+plastic mix are? How much weight at constant static load can they take before they start to deform?
Probably better than a bare dirt floor / pavement though.
I like reading the knee-jerk micro plastic concerns.
Some plastic degrades very slowly, some does not. I speculate that this thermally altered plastic brick will not cause any spectacular problems like soap beads or Kuereg. She still wants to clean up her streets, so let her do it you fine, exceptional western minds who brought us to this disaster in the first place.
Let he who is without plastic cast the first stone?
I don’t think the majority of people here have a problem with casting the bricks, it’s that they are being used as pavers, which will speed up their breakdown into microplastics due to people walking/driving on them. If they can be used for some structural purpose away from the sun, I think they’re a great solution to the problem. A problem that everyone on this planet is having to deal with.
“Let he who is without plastic cast the first” paver.
Why does everyone assume that the plastic she acquires was going to end up in the environment ? Does every company she acquires this waste from just tosses it in the ocean by default if she didn’t take it from them ? If this is standard in Kenya , to toss your garbage plastic out in the environment , shouldn’t the entire country do something about it ? And not rely on a single person’s idea to solve the issue ? Which isn’t solved in itself , it’s simply moved the issue elsewhere. They talk about building house bricks ? Even if the melting point is 350c, once your house caught fire , 350c is nothing.. Lovely barbecue this will make .. with all the chemical fumes released.. Possibly killing you even before you wake up from the fire alarm.
Stop assuming all the plastic is going straight into the environment , NONE of you can know exactly what would of happened to this plastic. Now we know for sure, it will be on the ground everywhere, which is straight into the environment .. Catch 22
I think this is a great idea in principle. In practice 350’c sounds awfully low. Would my house collapse on me if it caught fire before I could make it out?
Not to mention that many people die of smoke with harmful but not fatal CO levels. i.e. something toxic burnt which killed the person and that is typically cyanide from burning plastics.
I like the idea of a street paving with this though. I suppose there is a way around the above but it does seem a nightmare waiting to happen if it did catch fire. Glendale was a harsh lesson to learn, but it would be harsher to not learn from it.
The plastic object will emit micro particles anywhere it exists. It will not matter what form it is in, or if it is exposed to atmosphere.
If my 1950’s era house catches fire, it will be one heck of toxic mess due to the building materials it is made from. Ditto for my neighborhood.
The question should be: is the NET change of not having this in landfills better than the possibly polluting a different environment?
Finally for all the wags that want to make fuel from plastic: What is stopping you from achieving your goal? I don’t see much plastogas.
What I did see is a left brain engineering effort that looks interesting and may (or not) be solving a LOCAL issue. More effort than I see from the naysayers.
Now make then thinner, encase them in clay and put them out in the sun to dry. Get rid of the exposure to UV and wear and tear, make the overall bricks lighter, gets rid of the trash as the original intent and makes it lighter to transport wherever they’re need.
And more fire proof too.
There’s a German company producing street furniture and various garden products on a similar basis. See https://www.hahnkunststoffe.de/en/about-us/company/ I see advantages in being able to capture plastic from recycling bins and forming it into relatively immobile, large cross sections and not burning it. I would expect that by reforming into a larger mass would significantly reduce the production of micro-plastic compared to the degradation of the thin foils found in plastic bags.
I did something like this once.
I rescued a trash compactor from the dump. I bolted electric resistance heaters to the crush chamber, thermostatically controlled for 150°C. I lined the sides with silicone-impregnated paper and filled it with various bits of clean plastic trash. Then I pressed the “compact” button.
The heating, being from the outside, was fairly uneven. I had hoped for a loosely consolidated mass that would fuse to keep its shape when the cylinder came up, but it turned to liquid on the outside and oozed out before the inside got hot enough to fuse.
It’s in a barn somewhere. Maybe I’ll get it out and play with it some more…
I don’t understand how this fixes anything. Properly disposed of plastic goes into a recycling chain. Whether it is bricks or new containers or consumer products, it still depends on people properly disposing of plastics. Finding a new use for recycled plastics doesn’t help. It is getting them into the recycling chain that is the issue.
Overall, it seems like a bad idea. As the plastic bricks wear into dust, that will not be collected for further recycling. If they were recycled into lawn furniture or containers they at least have some chance of being recycled again. I would also be interested to know that as the plastic bricks succumb to the environment do they release chemicals into the ground?
I totally thought of this exact same thing only making railroad ties to update railway lines using renewable/recycled instead of petroleum byproduct soaked wooden logs. Im wondering g how those pavers will hold up to uv light? If they don’t im certain there’s some uv resistant paint that would take on the challenge
Railroad ties are being phased out and replaced with steel re enforced Concrete ! The ties are being processed for the petroleum product they were treated with, creasote. It is being extracted from the ties and refined and reused as treatment for power line poles and other chemicals. It was used to prevent rusting in the past but a lot of that is done with fish oils now. Plastic will always be a big problem no matter what it looks like. We can only collect it and repurpose it, as once it is produced, from the petroleum byproducts, it is here to stay until it decays naturally. Unfortunately there are many man made products that will be around until they are taken into the earths mantle core naturally and we know that will take millions of years. Unless we can concentrate the waste at an area like a fault line where the crust is being pushed down to the core, it is obviously not going away no matter what it looks like, bricks, boards, gas cans, sidewalks, car parts, you name it. Take a walk along a highway and look in the ditches and tell me what you see, plastic everywhere, it’s blowing around towns, in fields, there’s just no place that isn’t trashed up anymore. I remember when I was a kid more than 45 years ago, it was aluminum cans and bottles. The Human race is dirty and it isn’t getting any better, we haven’t done anything to improve this planet in truth. We are destroying our home along with everything else that lives here.
Does anyone know where I can get recycled plastic pavers in Brazil?
I read a lot of the above comments. Many of them are speculative about the dangers of microplastics released during wear and tear. That’s a small problem compared to the millions of tons floating around in gyres and washing up on our shores. The way I see it, from my non-expert point of view, the plastics that end up in the ocean never decompose. They break down into ever smaller pieces, eventually molecules of plastic. If you can help on the demand side, the supply side will respond and more recycling will occur, less ending up in the sea. Much of the plastic in the ocean wasn’t thrown into the ocean; it was tossed onto the ground and swept into a storm drain and then down a river to the sea. I think there should be a small deposit placed on every piece of one-use plastic. Even one cent will give people an incentive to collect it. But there has to be a market. So buy stuff made from recycled plastic!
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