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.