What is Ecobricking?
The challenge of what to do with waste plastics is growing in importance with each passing day. Of the vast majority of the 300 million tonnes of plastic produced each year, only a small percentage (often as little as 10) gets recycled, and even then recycling is not the permanent solution consumers often mistake it to be.
Recycling is a finite solution. The vast majority of plastics can only be recycled a few times before the quality of the plastic deteriorates, and there's little choice but to assign it to landfill or incineration.
What should we do with all this waste plastic if we can't recycle it indefinitely? One creative solution is to turn waste plastic into eco-bricks.
Put simply; an eco-brick is a waste plastic bottle stuffed full of other waste plastic to form a building block:
Image source: the plastic solution on facebook
These bricks can then become a basic building material that can be used to make anything from small structures like walls or sculptures, all the way to full scale working buildings such as schools (I kid you not).
The idea popped up all over the world in the early 2000s but has seen traction recently as the world rallies to tackle the problem of plastic waste.
Eco-bricks are so simple in concept anyone can make one by following a few simple rules:
Once it's made it's then a case of putting your new brick to work, and while no central resource is available for collecting and putting eco-bricks to work there is an ever growing community of Eco-brick enthusiasts.
A FB group for UK brickers now boasts over 40,000 members providing new opportunities to connect in a growing community of enthusiasts while tackling the problem of waste non-biodegradables!
But it's not all good news, eco-bricks and their use have been met with some criticism:
- Eco-bricks could be a health hazard should a structure catch fire, releasing toxic fumes into the atmosphere
- Recycling eco-bricks is out of the question as they consist of a variety of densely packed plastics
- If not done correctly eco-bricks can be a potential hazard stuffed with sharps and decomposing materials
Clearly then while Eco-bricking is an innovative solution, eco-bricks may not be the answer to all our plastic problems, but there are a lot of positives behind this fun and productive endeavour, not least of which is it instils a sense of community amongst those that share a common interest in tackling the plastic problem head-on.
We'd love to hear what you think about eco-bricking, please leave a comment down below and let us know what you think.
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For our fourth interview we spoke to Elsa a Sustainability masters graduate and content creator based in Birmingham.