Affresol Makes Modular Homes Out of Recycled Plastic

by , 03/17/10

While a party guest suggests to Dustin Hoffman’s character in The Graduate that “There’s a great future in plastics,” nobody could have predicted that they’d one day be used to make houses! Plastic waste is a class-A environmental problem, and putting recycled plastic to new use is one way of limiting it. And that’s exactly what Welsh company Affresol is doing by using it to build their amazing modular homes.

The company has developed a material made from recycled plastic mixed with resin and poured like concrete. The stuff, called Thermo Poly Rock, is waterproof, fire-retardant and rot-proof — which is good for houses — as well as insulating and recyclable, which is good for the environment. Each TPR home purportedly diverts 18 tons of waste from landfills and spares the lives of five or more trees.

The first such house is now standing in Swansea, Wales, and Affresol expects to be erecting 3,000 homes a year within three years.

So is TPR an environmental slam dunk? Well, no. The houses’ limited lifespan of 80 years means that they’re only a clearly greener alternative for buildings that are never intended to stand longer than that. Indeed, the initial target market will be public housing.

And then, there’s that word again: plastics. The company claims TPR “does not leech any harmful elements,” but plastics are linked to a ever-growing laundry list of health problems, making living in a plastic house almost as risky an undertaking as living in a glass one.

+ Affresol

Via Ecofriend

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  1. Eco-friendly Biodegrada... August 13, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    […] unpleasant trail? If you’re one of the many who’ve been doing a scoop and sack with those old plastic bags, keep in mind that they’ll most likely sit in an overflowing landfill for hundreds of years. […]

  2. lake powell bullfrog March 26, 2010 at 12:43 am

    Great post, you’ve helped me a lot

  3. ko March 19, 2010 at 12:30 am

    i must seriously question something: are these plastics flame retardant, and if so, what are the chemicals and how can the content be controlled?

    Most plastics except those containing chlorine in the polymer backbone (eg, PVC, CPVC, etc) are flammable and require addition of flame retardants such as P, Br, Sb etc in the polymer synthesis or as a solid additiove. Thos added as solid inevitably leach-out and are PoP and endrocine disruptors, and some generate dioxins or furans at low temperature combustion (P and Sb based retardents do not).

    Most plastics generate highly toxic by-products during low temperature combustion, which the typical house fire is. while certianly many plastics are used on construction materials, all plastic buildings are likely to prsent higher risk.

    I think there are some very good uses for recycled plastics in construction including the use of them as additive to concrete which can actually increase the strength and flame resistance (anti-splening agent), and to make molded structural forms including things like gratings, trims, gutters, etc.

    However, I’m a bit skeptcal about the all plastic house. Sounds nice, but raises a lot of questions.

  4. goolsbeed March 17, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    I applaud the idea of reusing waste as building materials, but instead of making homes of toxic byproducts of fossil fuels we need to demand that they be eliminated from the waste stream altogether. If plastics are necessary then make them from biological processes that compost. Research biomimicry.

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