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In reply to: Types of plastic

18/11/2019 at 21:43

@mathijsstroober those charts are great! I was wondering if you have published them anywhere else, and if they can be shared on a website with credit to you?

18/11/2019 at 07:55

Hi there everyone!

Glad to get some time to actually check out these forums in a long time! In response to @rorydickens and the mention of ecobricks, I started working with them in 2012 in South Africa and started a project in the village of Greyton. This in turn inspired some other projects around the country including Ian Dommisse’s Ecobrick Exchange in Port Elizabeth which built an amazing childhood development center utilizing ecobricks in several different ways.

I think the most inspiring projects are coming out of Guatemala where ecobricks were first put to use in large scale structures, starting with Susana Heisse’s Pura Vida Atitlan. They have made a great construction guide in Spanish, and are editing the English version now. A separate but connected project Hug It Forward has now built 127 schools there around the country.

With my project Upcycle Santa Fe I have been collecting ecobricks from the community here in Northern New Mexico for the last 5 years, and just had to stop due to losing some storage space and needing to clear my schedule for some build-outs. I’ve also been running a plastic collection service for local businesses and making what are called Ubuntu-Blox. They are basically dense bales of bagged plastic that are used as an alternative to strawbale or wall-filling insulation.

Harvey Lacey, the inventor of the simple metal and wooden presses that make the Ubuntu-Blox, was initially filling the bags with only polystyrene foam. Since he shared the tech with us in 2014 we have started to use Ubuntu-Blox as a catch all for non-recyclable plastics, as well as recyclable ones because we don’t believe in industrial recycling (plus we don’t have PP machines yet to deal with hard plastics!).


Our idea is to use all collected clean and dry soft plastic and polystyrene foam for insulation bales (Grade A) and everything else for exterior benches and walls (Grade B). Here is a vid of an exterior project we did a year ago which gives a bit of an overview:

We have already completed a study on the off-gassing of ecobricks and Ubuntu-Blox. We are fundraising to do the final research (flame-spread and R-value insulation testing) to be able to insulate structures with ecobricks and Ubuntu-Blox:

One final project to share here is some really cool work in regards to the aggregate idea that I learned about recently. This man Dave Pennington out of Texas has been working with what he calls EPIC Cement Composite which is a mix of poly foam, paper and cement. It has some amazing qualities and is super strong as you can see towards the end of this video:

Trying to work it all out on this end but it seems like with these options and the PP machines a (more) comprehensive program could be formulated. All the best plastic team!

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