Center for Regenerative Design and Collaboration (CRDC) CEO Don Thompson has invested a process that he says can turn any plastic – dirty or clean and in any form – into cement-like blocks.
The products (that achieve this) are called EcoArena Pre-Conditioned Resin Aggregate and Ecoblock, and it incorporates regenerated waste plastic particles, combined with a standard sand-cement mixture, to produce a highly resistant, durable cement or cement block, while providing a viable up-cycling use of waste material.
The process has been tested and applied by cement company Pedregal, in Costa Rica, for the past two years. CRDC is currently collaborating with international US chemical giant Dow in the development of EcoArena, in a bid to become a lead initiative for the alliance to end plastic waste.
Additionally, CRDC has partnered with a South African company that has expertise in on-site waste management, plastic recycling, waste-to-energy and zero waste to landfill solutions.
Thompson and Pedregal are introducing EcoArena to South Africa through an initial investor and partner roundtable in Cape Town during the first week of April.
“This breakthrough in transforming plastic and using it in the same way as you would conventional aggregate is a game-changer. Not only can we conduct our business in a more sustainable way but we can also also help solve one of the biggest problems we have created as human beings – that of plastic contamination.
“This is the very essence of our circular economy – one in which the construction industry is helping the plastic industry solve a waste problem by turning it into a raw material that can be used in any construction on the planet,” said Pedregal sales and marketing director David Zamora in a press release on Friday.
Thompson said the cement blocks produced from the plastic waste material is up to 10% stronger than conventional cement blocks, while being between 8% and 16% lighter in weight.
Zamora added that it has improved thermal properties, the same fire resistance as standard concrete and a lower dependency on other raw materials.
South Africa currently consumers about 1.5-million tonnes a year of plastic, of which only 21% is recycled, with the balance ending up in landfill and in oceans.
CRDC will be testing EcoArena with two major concrete manufacturers in the Western Cape as well as a major South African cement producer.
“In South Africa, there is an established and sophisticated cement industry. Against this, we need to create jobs, we need to clean up the environment and there is an urgent need for housing. Our plan is to use the Costa Rican model to initially launch in the Western Cape before rolling out the initiative nationally,” said Thompson.Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online