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
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.”
WANT TO EAT, DRINK AND BREATHE IN LESS PLASTIC? WITH THESE TIPS YOU CAN MAKE YOUR BODY PLASTIC FREE!
Together with MaatschapWij, BrightVibes is making a series on plastic. What's the problem exactly and how can we solve it? This week: Jeroen Dagevos from the Plastic Soup Foundation who explains to us how we can our body as plastic free as possible.