Gallery: Plastic Concrete: Building Bricks Made From Landfill Waste

 

Recent RPI Masters of Architecture graduate Henry Miller has devised a way to reuse waste plastic as an aggregate in cement, circumventing the energy-intensive process of plastic recycling. By grinding up landfill-bound plastic and mixing it with portland cement, Miller was able to create a material just as strong as traditional concrete made with mined aggregate. The ingenious solution netted miller first place in the “Component Category” of the second annual Concrete Thinking for a Sustainable World competition.

Using recycled materials is so hot right now, but using them as aggregate is hotter than Hansel in a black shirt on a summer Sunday. While living in Albany, Miller saw many areas cut their plastic recycling programs for the cheaper (now) solution of landfills, and noticed the astounding number of brownfield sites that were simply being abandoned. Miller’s idea: Why not use plastic waste as an aggregate in concrete and create a more sensible product. By mixing together ground-up plastic with cement and soil reclaimed from the brownfields, Miller was able to create a material just as strong as conventional concrete.

The Concrete Thinking for a Sustainable World competition only asked students to conceptualize a design, but Miller he was not satisfied with a mere idea. He actually used his plastic concrete to build a screen and a wall. In doing so he showed that his ideas were viable alternatives to the status quo and that there was no excuse to merely fall in line.

Describing his project, Henry Louis Miller states: “Recycling plastics is a difficult, energy intensive process, and yields a product that is inferior to the virgin material. I have researched the possibility of using granulated, post consumer waste plastics as the aggregate in concrete. In this application, unlike plastics can be universally mixed with no adverse affects, heat driven re-amalgamation is not required, and my early test results show the resulting product is as strong as conventional concrete mixes (between 3000 and 5000psi.) As a result of using plastic rather than conventional aggregate, the mining of new material to serve as aggregate is not necessary.”

+ Concrete Thinking for a Sustainable World Competition

+ RPI’s Masters of Architecture

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29 Comments

  1. imran khan February 26, 2013 at 9:10 am

    cn i detail infrmation abt thz…..

  2. macmillan September 24, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    This is a brilliant research.
    Would you please send me information on combination ratio(components),procedure and advantages/disadvantages against ordinary bricks.Looking forward to your kind reply.

  3. yu-hee September 17, 2012 at 12:56 am

    Good day! we would just like to ask these following questions:
    1. what are the components in making bricks out of plastics (materials needed)
    2. are all kinds of plastics,okay in making bricks
    3. how is it done (procedure)
    4. ratio of its components
    5. what are its advantages and disadvantages from ordinary bricks

  4. cone August 2, 2012 at 12:45 am

    …is it possible that a plastic bottle with sand filled inside can be encasted with cement mortar and will serve as bricks???thank you

  5. NALEDI ZUNGU July 19, 2012 at 10:29 am

    very eco-friendly… i am also doin a project and would really appreciate it if i could get some help wth answerng some of the questions

  6. Pratyush Rai June 14, 2012 at 6:29 am

    Good Information and Excellent Idea. Please can you send the whole process in detail. I am a std 10 student in India and i am very much interested in the recycled concrete process. I am helping poor children in a science fair and a science project.Kindly Please Send Me whole information of making this material at ‘pratyush.r8@gmail.com’. Iwould be very thankful to you.

    And also Best of Luck for your Idea.
    Thank You

  7. 1lakhhouse December 7, 2011 at 1:54 am

    your idea is good explain how to implement it

  8. 1lakhhouse December 7, 2011 at 1:48 am

    i want to find a cement substitute please help me….

  9. parimala September 30, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Mr.Henry& Mr.flocju2 ,
    Ihave few questions its not discourage your invention. If this invention is used worldwide then, we can cut down the dumping area size…….and it will bring the revolution in environmental friendly material worldwide.
    Have u done the brick testing is it suitable for all extreme weather condition, the strength of the material so that it can be called as building material?
    plz if u could post the brochure along with tests approved by building materials certifying laboratories……….
    one more question what is its reaction when a brick is subjected to heat?????As Mr. Flock said in his comments that the safety helmet are design with special engineering technique so the helmets are firated……….when we r taking the wastage plastic to recycle, are we going to use some special technology to make plastic stronger so that it should not melt in hot condition and it should not become brittle…………
    as we no that the plastic won’t give the prior indication before crushing that is the reason it is still not considered as building material. Though we use layers of plastic fibers into glass to make the glass more tough…….
    sorry, am asking too many questions when i read this topic the question rises plz.iam more interested to know the answer for all these question to update my knowledge……
    iam an Architect by my profession &looking for environmental friendly materials to use in my designs….

  10. mohamed el sheikh September 15, 2011 at 5:57 am

    i want buy a machine to make brick from construction waste materials incluiding plastic

  11. supraja August 22, 2011 at 9:28 am

    what s the increase in strength using plastic as aggregate?
    proportion ?
    practically applied?

  12. L3ST3R July 16, 2011 at 5:19 am

    Sir, can you please give more details on how you attained your cement/sand/plastic ratio. I would really like to know how you did your mix..Hope to receive your reply.

  13. engeline faith manatad June 16, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    sir we would just like to ask these following questions:
    1. what are the components in making bricks out of plastics (materials needed)
    2. are all kinds of plastics,okay in making bricks
    3. how is it done (procedure)
    4. ratio of its components
    5. what are its advantages and disadvantages from ordinary bricks

    hope for your reply sir,we will use it for our project…thank you so much

  14. Nish April 12, 2011 at 8:21 am

    I would really like to know what the cement/sand/recycled plastic ratio is.
    Please help me with that.
    This is a very wonderful invention of Miller.

  15. ashokreddy March 25, 2011 at 4:09 am

    For my childhood on wards i have an idea about the waste material of plastic,something want to do by recycling the plastic.
    The plastic waste material should mix in concrete mix.
    By this we have many advantages:
    They are:Inceresing the strength of concrete.
    waste material of plastic should use in concrete mix.
    Every one knows about the plastic use,but it does not decomposes easily.
    Just think about all the plastic people use every single day.
    public must realise the importance this its really wonder

  16. sarga November 8, 2010 at 3:01 am

    all this is good but
    1) is it really fire resistant?
    2) what is the approximate production cost?

  17. Life Cube: Inflatable E... September 17, 2010 at 11:40 am

    [...] instant emergency space and requires no tools to set up. The shelter arrives in a crate made from post-consumer recycled plastic shipping pallets and can be rolled if necessary using these patented steel round frame inserts. [...]

  18. kakanisrikanth.36 July 16, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    sir,i want to know the mix design of Plastic Concrete: Building Bricks Made From Landfill Waste.

  19. ANIL YADAV June 10, 2010 at 10:18 am

    I WANT TO A PROJECT IN PLASTIC BASE . HOW CAN MIX WASTE PLASTIC AND CEMENT/SEND .PLZ HELP ME RIGHT NOW

  20. flocku2 May 17, 2010 at 9:53 am

    I spent 12 years as a plastic process engineer working with many types of engineered plastics. There are fire resistant plastics such as those used to make Firemans helmets. There isn’t much use for the scrap once it has gone through the molding process. These and such plastics are specifically engineered for these purposes. Much like in concrete. even if there are fire proofing requirements, there are still applications for it’s use, such as rat slabs,(unreinforced concrete used to become the formwork and stripped out later, not to mention the archetectural precasters who use concrete forms for repeatability of product, even after they have outlasted thier usefulness, the concrete can be used in a crush and run capacity. someone mentioned earlier about the plastic leaching out, not true. certian plastics do have chemicals that leach out, but not the plastic itself, but recycled plastics have identifiers to allow for segregation of the different types of plastics. I have been in the concrete business for only 8 years now and with mix designs being a part of my daily routine, I have often thought about this topic, I am even working on a proposal that will justify purchacing a small injection molding machine to make daily used items like form chairs ect. and mixing scrap into the process. while adding a wash water reclaimation system to suppliment mix water. Outstanding job Henry, If more people thought outside the box, we would have little need for landfills

  21. Doug Morris March 24, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Waterproof cement overcoating of the plastic composit blocks for ground contact and fireproofing works just fine. Shredded Type 1 through Type 7 plastics all work. We make them in Belize from 1/2′ “Type 1 PETE flakes and sand. The cheapest chemical bonding agent is still more costly than portland cement. .

  22. Scott from Kenseal January 20, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    I agree with Seamus… I had the same thought, wondering how stable the wall would be when the plastic bits got hot and melted away. The compressive strength can’t possibly be the same after that.

  23. siva December 18, 2009 at 4:14 am

    public must realise the importance this its really wonder it should reach in all over world its my best of luck

  24. siva December 18, 2009 at 4:09 am

    its really wonder it need more efficient to the public to low the pollution

  25. Kelly_McGinnis September 23, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Henry Miller, designer of the product discussed here, was the winner of the Portland Cement Association’s 2007 Student Design Competition. The Student Design Competition challenges architect students to think outside of the box and come up with innovative and creative design solutions and products. Henry did just that with his concept of a concrete block made with plastic that would otherwise go into a landfill. Although some of the concerns voiced here about the feasibility of the product are valid and would need to be researched, the bricks are an excellent example of using portland cement to neutralize the negative characteristics of other materials. More on the awards at http://www.cement.org/newsroom/2007_Student_Winners.asp

    Kelly McGinnis
    Coordinator – Sustainable Development
    PCA

  26. h3 September 22, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    This is possible now and is being used now. The problem with this product is that it is unable used on the ground, because the granulated plastic leaches into the environment. Big no no with the EPA.

  27. seamusdubh seamusdubh September 22, 2009 at 2:01 am

    So if the new structure is mostly a polymer instead of a mineral. How fire resistant is it now?
    Beyond the basic durability and structural advantages that come from mineral, stone, brick, and concrete construction. You have the excellent thermal properties that come with it. For some reason I envision buildings going up like roman candles that are built this way.

  28. jkmcf September 21, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    Beyond 2000 showcased something like this back in the 90s. Of course the developer was in Australia and I haven’t heard of it catching on here.

  29. Bman September 21, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    I wonder what the difference is in weight compared to traditional concrete? And what about R-value?

    I hope he pursues this viable idea and we see it on the market in the near future. The fact is, we produce way to much plastic, making it one of our top waste products and a total blight to nature.

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