By the year 2050, there will be more plastic waste, by weight, in our oceans than there are fish, the World Economic Forum reports.
With such an abundance of plastic (literally) floating around, entrepreneur Gregor Gomory knew there had to be a way to put it to use. Inspired by the work of Peter Lewis, a New Zealand-based engineer whose research laid the foundation for the use of waste plastic to create building materials, Gomory created RePlast, a material comprising plastic sourced from the oceans and machine-compressed into the dimensions of a typical concrete masonry unit. Because the blocks do not require a binding agent, such as glue or adhesive, their carbon footprint is negligible compared to concrete.
RePlast blocks also boast thermal and acoustic performance that traditional masonry can't provide. The project, which is being run out of Gomory's New York– and Los Angeles–based startup ByFusion, is still in its early stages; he and his team are exploring possible applications for the new material. “We don’t want to say this is RePlast—this is how you should use it and you can’t change it,” Gomory told SustainableBrands. “We want to see RePlast used in a modular way in low-income housing, for example. There are much smarter people out there than us that will have ideas.”