In recent blogs – we have spent a lot of time looking at the crisis in the Australian recycling industry caused by a number of factors. In today’s blog – we will be a bit more positive and look at an idea that may play a part in the future of recycling in Australia.

 

What is causing the crisis in Aussie recycling currently?

 

It has been a tough year for the Aussie recycling and waste management industries in general. The ABC Four Corners expose and the War On Waste tv shows cast some less than flattering light on  shady practices.

 

The shows uncovered practices such as NSW rubbish being shipped to Queensland for dumping.

 

The recycling collections ending up in landfill or being stockpiled was one of the more upsetting to see angles.

 

In recent weeks – the situation has got worse again as China is clamping down on imports of low quality recycling commodities. This has already lead to some councils cancelling their recycling collections.

 

What is the main issue?

 

If you strip it all back – the major problem is that Australia has very limited recycling facilities and also limited off takers for any recycled products.

 

The first issue is that we manufacture very little in this country any more. For example – all car manufacturing has ceased.

 

This means that there is little use for recycled commodities in this country. It thus logically makes sense for the recycling to be shipped of shore for processing to a country that actually makes stuff i.e. China.

 

Of course – now that China will not accept the recycling – we are in a real bind.

 

What is the solution and the future of recycling?

 

Basically – unless we want to dump all the recycling in landfill – or burn it – we need to find manufacturing and new uses for the product in Australia.

 

Yesterday – we covered the possibility of using recycled plastic to make roads. You can also use tyres to make bricks.

 

Today we will ask can we build homes and buildings from recycled plastic also. At least, if there is one thing Australians love after coffee – it is housing!

 

Using plastic to build homes

 

Concrete is one of the few low technology products that is not transported overseas – due to the weight – it makes sense to manufacture it in developed countries.

 

Is it possible to use recycled plastic to manufacture homes also?

 

The answer is that it is possible and is already happening in numerous countries around the world.

 

Future of recycling

 

Fortune magazine reports that a company is doing that in Bogota, Colombia.  The company Conceptos Plásticos uses waste rubber and plastic to make construction materials.

 

“The materials are thoroughly cleaned, before being ground into a rough power, mixed, melted and extruded into a range of shapes – mostly beams, blocks and pillars – which lock together to form buildings.”

 

The buildings can be put together very quickly – “Oscar’s plastic homes can be assembled remarkably quickly – a 40 m2house divided into two bedrooms, a bathroom, living room, dining room and kitchen, and can be built by four people in just five days”.

 

Closer to Australia – a New Zealand inventor called Peter Lewis is also developing homes from plastic.

 

Check out his company byfusion.com which manufactures plastic blocks from all plastic waste.

 

The plastic waste is washed, dried, and then formed into large blocks called Replast.

 

ByFusion is capable of producing blocks in various shapes, sizes and weights to suit many manufacturing needs.

 

Benefits include:

– 95% lower greenhouse gas emissions than concrete and will not crumble under pressure.

– excellent sound and heat insulation

– stronger than bricks

 

To my reading – this sounds like it will be a key part of the future of recycling in Australia

 

Conclusion

 

The future of recycling is uncertain at the moment – but ideas like this will definitely help us keep waste costs down and benefit the environment.

 

It is likely that government legislation to favour these technologies will be needed for government and potentially private buildings. We will keep you updated.