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L.A. Startup Turns Tons of Non-Recyclable Plastics Into Building Blocks For Construction

L.A. Startup Turns Tons of Non-Recyclable Plastics Into Building Blocks For Construction
Source: ByFusion.com

A unique, eco-friendly process uses steam and compression to convert all types of plastic waste into a revolutionary building material called ByBlock. No added chemicals. No fillers. No waste.

LA. startup turns non-recyclable plastics into building blocks for construction

ByFusion uses a combination of steam and compression to shape all kinds of plastics, even nonrecyclables, into standard building blocks called ByBlocks. These can be used to build anything from fences and retaining walls to public terraces and bus stops, but the real stars are the patented machines used to make them. Called Blockers, these hefty machines are fed mounds of plastic that are squeezed into blocks—no sorting or cleaning needed. After years of R&D, the company has installed a full production unit in L.A., where it can process 450 tons of plastic per year, with 12 more Blockers in the pipeline across the country. Their goal is to reach 100 million tons by 2030. — FastCompany 

LA-based startup ByFusion is proving that landfills need not be dug for plastics, if one can squash enough of them together into a Minecraft-like block. ByFusion’s patented machines known as “Blockers” have a simple yet ingenious design. They shred the plastic, and then apply steam and pressure repeatedly, until the “nonrecyclable plastic” is so squashed together that it fuses.
Recycling doesn’t always mean chemically separating things into component parts, or finding a new life for an old object. LA-based startup ByFusion is proving that landfills need not be dug for plastics, if one can squash enough of them together into a Minecraft-like block. ByFusion’s patented machines known as “Blockers” have a simple yet ingenious design. They shred the plastic, and then apply steam and pressure repeatedly, until the “nonrecyclable plastic” is so squashed together that it fuses. Source: ByFusion.com

Founder says primary goal is to get a Blocker in every city

The system works with virtually any kind of plastic, including fishnets, but excluding Styrofoam. And because the plastic isn’t melted but fused (hence the company’s name), it doesn’t require an drop of adhesive, glue, or mortar. As a result, the process yields no waste whatsoever: 22 pounds of plastic makes a 22-pound block. “You [can] literally eat your lunch, throw in [the leftover plastic], make a block, then stick it in the wall,” Heidi Kujawa, who founded ByFusion in 2017, told FastCompany.

In 2019, ByFusion partnered with the Hefty EnergyBag program and the city of Boise, which asked its residents to separate their hard-to-recycle plastics. Only 20% of residents obliged, but the effort still garnered about 30 tons of plastic grocery bags, bubble wrap, and fast-food containers that were diverted from the landfill. Instead, they were turned into building blocks, some of which were used in a local park. 

The company wants to partner with materials-recovery facilities, municipalities, and even corporations across the country that would run the Blockers themselves. “Our primary goal is to get a Blocker in every city, to enable every city to capture their own recyclable waste,” Kujawa says. 

Blockers machines come in two sizes: One is the size of a shipping container and can process up to 30 tons of plastic per month; the other is a floor-mounted affair that can process more than 90 tons per month. With a $1.3 million price tag for the large Blocker, the investment is significant, but Kujawa says recycling plastic comes with its own set of financial challenges. 

“Right now, this un-recyclable plastic creates a cost burden across the board, and I don’t think people realise how much taxpayer dollars go into that cost burden,” she says. Blockers are also available to rent, starting at $280,000 annually. 

“If we get 9,000 Blocker systems installed around the world by 2025,” Kujawa says, “together we can hit our 100-million-ton goal.”

Source: FastCompany 

ByBlocks come in a standard 16-by-8-by-8-inch building-block size and three variations: Some are molded with pegs so they can interlock; others are flat so builders can easily mount other components like a roof on top; and others are a combination of the two. ByFusion is also working on developing smaller, cube-size blocks.
ByFusion uses a combination of steam and compression to shape all kinds of plastics, even nonrecyclables, into standard building blocks called ByBlocks. ByBlocks come in a standard 16-by-8-by-8-inch building-block size and three variations: Some are molded with pegs so they can interlock; others are flat so builders can easily mount other components like a roof on top; and others are a combination of the two. ByFusion is also working on developing smaller, cube-size blocks. Source: ByFusion.com
The blocks are 10 pounds lighter and more durable than hollow cement blocks. They can be clad with any kind of material or left exposed, but since plastics are susceptible to sunlight, outdoor projects would have to be coated in clear paint or paired with another weather-resistant material.
These can be used to build anything from fences and retaining walls to public terraces and bus stops, but the real stars are the patented machines used to make them. The blocks are 10 pounds lighter and more durable than hollow cement blocks. They can be clad with any kind of material or left exposed, but since plastics are susceptible to sunlight, outdoor projects would have to be coated in clear paint or paired with another weather-resistant material. Source: ByFusion.com
* No glues or adhesives required means you save time with quicker installation * Won’t crack or crumble like standard concrete blocks * Zero waste process – 1 ton of plastic makes 1 ton of ByBlock * No specialised labour required.
DIMENSIONS: 16″ X 8″ X 8″ (40CM X 20CM X 20CM)
WEIGHT: 22 LBS (10KG) * No glues or adhesives required means you save time with quicker installation * Won’t crack or crumble like standard concrete blocks * Zero waste process – 1 ton of plastic makes 1 ton of ByBlock * No specialised labour required. Source: ByFusion.com
they turn every kind of plastic, even fishing nets, into blocks of the same material properties. The only thing they can’t tackle is polystyrene or Styrofoam. Not one ounce of adhesive glue, mortar, or any kind of extra substance is used. If 22 pounds of plastic go in, a 22 pound block comes out.
A big advantage of the Blockers is their indiscrimination; they turn every kind of plastic, even fishing nets, into blocks of the same material properties. The only thing they can’t tackle is polystyrene or Styrofoam. Not one ounce of adhesive glue, mortar, or any kind of extra substance is used. If 22 pounds of plastic go in, a 22 pound block comes out. Source: ByFusion/FastCompany
* Designed for smaller material recycling facilities, waste management operations, municipalities, and corporate partners * Processes up to 30 tons per month * Conforms to California emissions standards * Modular installation – ships standard shipping containers.
COMMUNITY BLOCKER * Designed for smaller material recycling facilities, waste management operations, municipalities, and corporate partners * Processes up to 30 tons per month * Conforms to California emissions standards * Modular installation – ships standard shipping containers. Source: ByFusion.com
In Lihue, on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, the company worked with an elementary school to build a pavilion with blocks made from locally collected marine debris and fishing nets.
ByFusion has already partnered with a host of cities, including Boise, Idaho, and Tucson, Arizona. In Lihue, on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, the company worked with an elementary school to build a pavilion with blocks made from locally collected marine debris and fishing nets. Source: ByFusion/FastCompany
The ultimate goal? To sell Blocker machines to every city in the U.S. and abroad, helping municipalities take control of their plastic waste and turn it into building material. [Photo: courtesy ByFusion]
Heidi Kujawa. The ultimate goal? To sell Blocker machines to every city in the U.S. and abroad, helping municipalities take control of their plastic waste and turn it into building material. [Photo: courtesy ByFusion] Source: ByFusion/FastCompany
Want to help ByFusion continue to clean up the planet? “Shop our new products made from marine debris and plastic waste! Proceeds help us continue to repurpose marine debris collected from our oceans.” Source: Facebook/ByFusion
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