Let’s think about plastic for a second… It’s strong, it’s durable, it’s waterproof and lightweight, it’s easy to mould and it’s recyclable… Surely it could be used to build things, right?
It sure can, and a factory in Nairobi, Kenya is making it happen, by creating bricks made from recycled plastic - and quite frankly, we’re digging it!
They produce 1,500 bricks every single day, which are made from a mix of different kinds of plastic waste. The waste used comes from packaging factories that would otherwise end up in landfill, so this way they are giving the plastic a new lease of life by transforming it into durable building materials. And guess what? It’s only five to seven times stronger than concrete! #humblebrag
So, how do they do it?
Well, Kenya alone produces 600,000 tonnes of plastic every year and only 9% is actually recycled (tut-tut). So, the factory is taking the plastic waste and mixing it with sand, which is then heated and compressed into bricks – it’s as simple as that.
Materials Engineer, Matee, works at the factory and actually designed the machines herself that allow the bricks to be mass produced. She ran out of patience waiting for her local government to solve the problem of plastic pollution, so took matters into her own hands – talk about a Difference Maker!
The factory has recycled 20 tonnes of plastic waste since 2017 which is awesome, but Matee isn’t stopping there! She plans to add another, much bigger production line that could triple capacity, recycling around 60 tonnes of plastic per year. GO GIRL!
Finding new ways of reusing plastic is absolutely crucial, as only 21% of all the plastic ever produced has been recycled or incinerated! (Shocking, we know). Plus, with a constant global demand for new buildings, using it to make construction materials is a real corker of an idea.
And if that wasn’t enough… working with plastic waste and developing plastic alternatives to natural materials could end up reducing the demand on the world’s resources, which Mother Nature will be thrilled about.
Next article: ‘Just put it on the ocean plastic’