Pollution campaigners devise brick made from plastic waste

Greenbrick Workshops co-founders Connor Winter and Ben Gibbons with a wall of their ‘plastic bricks’

A pair of social entrepreneurs who were forced to return from their work in Nepal combatting plastic pollution amid the covid-19 pandemic have developed a brick made from recycled plastic.

Dorset-based Greenbrick Workshops was founded by Ben Gibbons and Connor Winter and operates from a plastic recycling workshop housed within an old Hovis van.

Gibbons, who studied English at the University of Oxford, said: “We’re lucky to have had a design engineer, Ella Fenwick, join the team to lead prototype development; and as a team, what makes us strong is our connection to a wider community.

"What we’re doing was made possible by an open-source network called Precious Plastic, which has enabled us to use an open-source mould for our first prototype. We’re simply refining it to enable it to scale more effectively.”

Recycled plastic is washed, shredded and heated to 250C before the bricks are formed

The team is working with NGOs in Zimbabwe and Mozambique to set up local workshops that can use their technology to build affordable houses.

Greenbrick Workshops aims to set up 1,000 workshops in 10 years, which would prevent around six million tonnes of carbon dioxide otherwise released from plastic burning and the production of clay bricks and cement. This would also recycle around 800,000 tonnes of plastic otherwise headed for the ocean, or around 1% of global ocean plastic leakage.

The start-up has been provided with an £11,500 loan from YTKO Group’s Outset Finance programme. YTKO is an official delivery partner of the government’s Start-Up Loan Scheme, which promises to provide new businesses with a sustainable solution to the challenges of affordable finance.

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