How startup ByFusion is turning plastic trash into a construction commodity

Dive Brief:

  • New York-based startup ByFusion is turning plastic waste into construction blocks known as RePlast. The company's technology can use any form of plastic, including marine debris, in its process.
  • These blocks can be made in the same size as standard concrete blocks, though don't have the same weight-bearing capabilities. The blocks do have good acoustic and thermal insulation properties, which ByFusion says makes them ideal for use in road projects or fill-in building frames.
  • RePlast blocks don't need any glues or adhesives. ByFusion says they also meet LEED certification standards and have a 95% lower emissions footprint than concrete blocks.

Dive Insight:

Information about marine waste has been taking over media headlines with stunning statistics, such as The Ellen MacArthur Foundations's prediction that there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050. With clear indication that plastic waste is a crisis, it is necessary that organizations like ByFusion use creativity and innovation to develop a solution.

The ByFusion team began working on this idea years ago, but got delayed by fundraising problems. Now, with increased awareness about marine plastic issues and low oil prices, they decided it was the right time to re-launch. The company's first project will be working with Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii to process plastic waste into blocks to help protect the Hawaiian Archipelago. This type of model is one that they hope to replicate.

"In theory, we’re looking at an absolute definition of a circular economy, whereby plastic waste washing up in local communities gets processed and used in local community centers or on roadways," said CEO Gregor Gomory to Sustainable Brands.

ByFusion joins a number of others which have been inspired to find a use for the growing abundance of ocean plastic. Dutch company VolkerWessels teamed up with the city of Rotterdam last year to use the material in a roadway prototype. Additionally, through a website called Precious Plastic, a young Dutch inventor has been releasing blueprints and tutorials for home recycling equipment that anyone can use. Gomory may mimic this practice as he says he plans to make the RePlast technology open source to maximize the potential for its use around the world.

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Filed Under: Recycling Waste Diversion
Top image credit: ByFusion / Vimeo