Entry Motivation: 

Roughly 75 000 metric tonnes of flexible packaging make it into the environment, communities and landfill every year in South Africa. With approximately 40 tonnes of this material being stacked at our recycling depot I started down the road to create, in collaboration with Duncan Doo, a solution to turn this into viable building material.

The criteria for the end technology was straight forward. Create a safe, robust machine that will work in rural spaces off single phase power and create a brick of sorts using only waste materials. In other words, a standard brick that does not include water, sand nor cement. The technology should also be able to produce bricks or similar building material at scale.

Although there are different bricks being made from waste materials most of them include the using of natural resource or does not comply with safety standards.

Two years of R&D resulted in a machine that can truly be viewed as a ground-breaking technology. The brick machine in its current iteration, version 3, consists out of a melting pot and a mixing pot. Flexible packaging and post-consumer container lids or other post-consumer polyolefins are melted together to form Plastic Cement. The Plastic Cement is then mixed with crushed post-consumer glass and more flexible packaging. This mix can then be moulded into a variety of different building materials; bricks, pavers, curb stones and drain covers to mention only a few.

The resulting bricks and pavers are stronger than its cement counter parts. Initial fire tests are also promising in relation to building regulations. The resulting building material can ultimately be recycled again as it is a combination of plastic and glass. Another advantage of the building materials is that it is lighter than the equivalent cement products potentially saving on transport. We have concluded a successful build trail; building a wall with Green Bricks and normal cement as a binder.

What is really exciting about this technology is the potential of deploying a network of machines in rural, peri-urban and urban communities to address the local waste challenges as well creating much-needed products out of problematic materials, diverting it from landfill whilst substituting limited natural resources water and sand as well as carbon producing cement.

Version 3 of the Green Brick Machine is operational, and we've already produced 430 building blocks and 66 pavers. In the process diverting close to 3.5 metric tonnes of glass from landfill as well as 3.5 tonnes of post-consumer plastic.

The Green Brick Machine can make a real difference in our fight against plastic pollution.