Using shredded plastic to make ecobricks?
Hello from South Africa!
Has anyone out used the plastic shredded material to make ecobricks? Particularly 2 litre plastic bottles (Coca Cola, etc…)
If you have, what were the results like?Were they easy to stuff?Where they hard / solid enough to use in building?What were the weights of the ecobricks?Anything else you found that was interesting?Many thanks!
using plastic for bricks has been discussed here in the forum, please search ‘bricks’. in short: don’t do this, plastic waste could be poisonous and it’s recycling process can be harmful to humans (fumes) and would also violates many building codexes and other requirements for housing. the problems with the heat and mechanical properties of plastic.
I am not talking about melting the plastic down and molding bricks (lego or otherwise) – I am talking about the ecobricks that are the plastic PET bottles that are stuffed full of plastic waste… So I don’t see how that would be poisonous?
i see, thanks for the clarification,
i see also problems with the sustainability with this items; lot’s of question raise:
– what meanful applications has this?
– how long it can survive it in this bottles, i think it would just delay the moment when this stuff enters the system again
– i saw people doing walls with that, if such wall dissolves sometime, and those bottles too, it’s more likely all over the place.
i think it’s not the right way to recycle plastic, it has an unclear end with unpredictable consequences. it’s ok for short term but the penalty is paid by our already dead born follow generations.
so to be clear, imho, we have to support solutions to get rid of these small plastic elements/waste the right way, this is a task for the industry and the politicians.
you have to take into account that this plastic ‘bricks’ are more likely to be used outdoor, being exposed to stronger temperature variations as it was initially designed. under this conditions (and sizes), it’s aging much faster and as consequence this plastic become less valuable (in short time), so it’s less attractive to be a subject for recycling, more likely it has to be burned! in short, this is a dead end and rather irresponsible !
As a matter of fact, there is no ‘eco’ here! That are ticking time bombs only, just consider how hard it is to get rid of it!
Hi again, please take a look at some of the research that is already out there about this as well as what we are doing about it in our own community… If we sit back and wait for the industry and politicians to do something about it – I’m afraid that NOTHING will get done! (Especially here in South Africa where only 5% of the population recycles)…
We are doing this at our school so as to try and change mindsets and shift the way in which people view recycling – this method of making ecobricks using household waste is something small, but it is a start… We have a school of over 1100 pupils – that is 1100 families who are now actively involved with at least form of recycling – these ecobricks are getting used to build schools and rooms for poor rural communities that cannot afford traditional building methods – they are encased in mud / cement and therefore are not affected by sunlight…
So thanks for saying it is a dead end and irresponsible – I was looking for help and got just the opposite…
i understand, but yet as a matter of fact, there is no ‘eco’ here! That are ticking time bombs only, just consider how hard it is to get rid of it of those items again! This story is as said a blind (naive & irresponsible) and short sight solution, the problem remains. Please research & consider other solutions and support them, as long they have a finite and clear end for true.
Such bottle as said dissolves easily, the plastic particles in there too, this goes into the air and boom, it enters the ocean, even smaller and much more deadly for our habitat.
450 years – 1000 years is not an “easy” dissolve…
If you have any other solutions you’d like to share with me here (something that is affordable, relatively easy to do) please go ahead and do so… But if you’re going to shoot ideas down, come up with other solutions.
i don’t need to point out other solutions, I am here to point out the consequences, for you, your fellows, and anyone who has to cleanup your actions.
to over come the problems of this solution, you only need to tackle down the issues I’ve just mentioned:
– packaging: something else than bottles!
– content of the bottles: needs to be investigated and carefully
– health impacts: there is endless evidence about living on or in waste
– treatment: the plastic actually has to be heated and nearly melted into less dangerous sizes
– education & contract: people have to be well informed about all that, there have to be polices and contracts about how to use and dispose this ‘eco’ bricks.
I don’t think under the conditions in this areas have to suffer, this can be actually done in a professional and responsible matter but I can be wrong.
Even if it is remotely 450 years (very doubtful), do you think if one of this plastic bottles gets smashed, someone is going to collect all the particles and parts from the ground down there ? It’s even hard find people up here in europe who would do such thing….
considering that we polluted/killed most of the air & see life as well our soils on this planet, do you really think we should keep going with putting more time bombs into the ground, for own profit ? we do this since ages, i know. but let me tell you plastic plays a lion key part in this destruction. it has to be collected, treated and dissolved properly.
i believe this could work, only if you use the same material to stuff into the bottle (usually PET), if you keep the ‘brick’ all the same plastic, it would be easy to shred/remould it once you can see it deteriorating.. then just make a new ‘brick’ to replace it.
i know it’s not the best option, but it will slow down the pollution getting into our waterways.
great! i would also look at solutions to keep the plastic together. having it in the bottle only isn’t enough though. eventually you can mix it with the good dust/earth just and natural made glue. it could also filter fume during hot times or direct sun exposure.
needless to say, but you have to search for peer reviewed evidence that living inside a plastic house, 24/7 for years long doesnt harm you, especially with the temperatures and sun you have down there !!!
saying that this or that plastic is not poisonous is clearly not enough! there is a reason why people leave (and loose) their homes when they discover it’s build on waste. there is also reason why people switch from concrete to other build materials, same thing : concrete is not classified as harmful.
in doing this research right, you’re deciding over the death and life, dear friend.
googling for it showed nothing, after 10 minutes.
@wesrent – hi. I live in Namibia, so I’m looking for the same solution as you. My biggest challenge is shack fires when using ecobricks. We have an average of 400 shack fires in Windhoek each month, so the toxicity with ecobricks would be hectic, no? So in SA & Namibia & elsewhere, the eco house would ideally use electricity then to avoid this, but how do you enforce this? We have a project going in Namibia where light is produced inside a 2 liter plastic bottle, which is inserted into the roof and is run by sunlight. These lights only work for 5-6 hours though. Solar panels are obviously out of the question.
Just to emphasise, I’m not against ecobricks, just looking at it from all angles right now and would love to have more input. To me, the lego bricks look like the best option so far.
@conny, could you upload some pictures, so we get an idea about those ‘shacks’ (context matters here) ? however, googling for ‘plastic waste housing’ or similar brought up some interesting articles, here one of them (project in bogota, claiming its fire resistant). there is another one here.
but yes, you have to be very careful, there are too many goofy ‘projects’ out there claiming ‘good for us’ and the usual bla bla, but looking at the facts there are most of the time just good intentions left and a huge load of resource/time/people waste, including this project here, ‘precious plastic’.
Here’s a pic of what a typical shack looks like. Made out of corrugated iron, residents use candles at night, so risk of fire is always there.
oh dear, truly bad conditions; hard to say anything. so i see 2 big challenges to solve, get you a serious shredder or a facility to sort and split plastics, and another facility to make the bricks (via heat & pressure). doing it with those bottles seems unrealistic because your earth seems unfitted, and water is precious.
wouldn’t it be easier to make deals with existing plastic collector/recycle spots ? doing all this from scratch looks unrealistic. I could also imagine that this won’t be supported by any governments.
so let’s say the fire resistance can be solved, what steps are possible there ? talking with the gov. or industry ?
@conny, if you need help with number crunching/machine design for the brick ‘factory’ let me know, it could be done with scrap yard things but requires 2-3 man months in work to get a machine which produces at least 5 bricks simultaneously, at decent rate of 5 a minute. not sure what brought you here but ‘precious plastic’ machines are rather designed for small objects…
I would have thought that a better way to use bottles for building would be to fill them with rammed sand. It is a tried and tested technique. See:
The outer render/plaster protects the PET from UV radiation, and the rammed sand will not compress or creep like the shredded plastic waste.
@frogfall – yes the plastic filled ecobricks is the same principle as the sand, however now you are killing two birds, “hiding” the plastic away within the structure itself – using the cob or mud to encase the bricks would make them safe from the UV rays… I am not 100% sure on the fire resistance of these encased plastic bottles though.
@conny – yes, there are also a lot of shack fires here in South Africa, especially during the winter months… I am sure that a fire with a normal shack will be just as bad as a fire with a house made out of ecobricks? I am sure that the people will get away from the fire regardless of the toxicity levels of the smoke? I wonder if the mud encasing the ecobricks would have any fire resistant qualities??
@wesrent as @frogfall mentioned, if you want to make “bottle bricks” the way to go is using sand. Filling the bottles with shredded plastic is not efficient because the plastic inside of the bottle will compress and eventually your houses will fall appart. If you insist on using only plastic for your bricks, then find another method such as using a lego moulds like this one, they will even be much better looking and comfortable:
@wesrent: I’m hoping the mud encasing will kind of, sort of, contain the fire for a while at least? Maybe I should test it on a mini-scale rather than speculating 🙂
Spoke to an architect yesterday and he tells me laws and municipal & political red tape will be quite something to deal with if I’m planning to sell the bricks even at cost price. So, a quick search this morning showed that there’s a Shack Dwellers Association. Will contact them to see what’s happening there re laws etc.
@timhardex: thank you! I’ve completely forgotten about that company you’ve linked. I actually know the owner who’s out of town at the moment but will chat to him. Re numbers: yes please! Anything will help right now.
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