Future Buildings Are Made From Trash: Recycling Plastic into Building MaterialAuthor: Jane Fazackarley
Plastic gets more than its fair share of negative press. It pollutes our oceans, it fills up landfill, it’s difficult to recycle, which is perhaps why research shows Americans waste 10.5 billion tonnes of it a year, it’s often full of chemicals and it even gets the blame for disrupting our hormones.
However, as some visionary startups have demonstrated, the news isn’t all bad. Companies like Miniwiz are almost literally turning trash into treasure. The Taiwan based business, which was formed in mid-2005, are currently one of the leading innovators in this sector showing us all just what is possible. The manufacturing company has taken upcycling to the extreme and now plastics that could have been left to degrade at the bottom of our oceans are being transformed into a new form of building material.
The Miniwiz takes items such as water containers and lenses and repurposes them – the company aren’t scared to boast that their products are “100% made from trash”. What once would have been discarded is being transformed into ceiling panels and shelving. The bricks manufactured from waste are becoming the building blocks of the future – and this no-waste approach has proved to be a winner.
Miniwiz aren’t the only company making waste count and using it to change the world for the better. Mexican entrepreneur Carlos Daniel Gonzalez is another leading light in the plastic-to- fantastic world of building materials. Mexico is renowned for its high volume of plastic waste, and while others couldn’t see its worth, Gonzalez recognized an opportunity that is revolutionizing the world of building in his home country. Gonzalez went on to found the start-up company EcoDomum, which turns plastic waste into affordable properties, helping to solve two problems at the same time.
Meanwhile, student Lisa Fuglsang Vestergaard is using the soft plastics that would otherwise gather in India to make bricks strong enough to cope with the harsh rains during the Monsoon season.
Why it matters
This new way of looking at plastic as a building material as opposed to mere waste is changing people’s lives for the better, which is why this growing trend is so significant. In countries like Mexico and India, this fresh drive is providing affordable homes for people who might have otherwise been forgotten, and building materials made from waste provide a low carbon option for a greener environment.
Taking plastic and turning it into something useful like building material also reduces land waste and increases sustainability, which benefits everyone on this planet.
A new niche for entrepreneurs
What used to be discarded has now become the building blocks of a brighter future, which will go on to provide benefits both now and in the years to come. With a combination of creativity and some foresight, there is a wealth of opportunity to be found among the materials that were once considered as mere trash by most people.
Many businesses start out with the feeling of wanting to make a difference. Now, with a greater drive for all things green – and an abundance of plastic waste – the renewable building materials niche is a growing opportunity an entrepreneur could easy to tap in to, and with so many guiding lights in this sector, the business people have plenty of influencers to look up to and take inspiration from.
As the need for sustainability continues to grow, stepping back and taking a look around at what goes to waste, would be an eye-opening experience for any modern day innovator eager enough to spot the potential others have missed, while also catering for the climate conscious consumer.