New building materials made from recycled plastic are replacing cement and steel to cut construction's carbon emissions
Spotted: According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the amount of plastic waste produced globally is set to triple by 2060, with around half ending up in landfill and less than a fifth being recycled. In Africa, startup Kubik is trying to reverse this trend with a project that turns hard-to-recycle plastic waste into affordable building materials.
Kubik turns plastic waste like polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene into interlocking bricks, columns, beams, and jambs. These can be used to erect walls without the need for cement and steel, but are just as strong.
In addition, Kubik’s building materials cost less than traditional materials and are anti-flammable and nondegradable. The process reduces carbon emissions in two ways, by recycling plastic waste and by reducing the amount of energy-intensive cement used in construction. Kubik products also cost at least 40 per cent less per square metre.
Founded in 2021, Kubik has begun operation in Ethiopia, where it plans to scale production to make enough materials to build over a quarter million square meters of wall surface area every year. The company recently closed a seed funding round that raised $3.34 million (around €2.97 million). Eventually, Kubik plans to scale to other countries within Africa.
The high carbon cost of traditional building materials is spurring a huge number of new innovations aimed at making construction more sustainable, as spotted by Springwise in the archive. These range from a paint that passively cools buildings to wood insulation.
Written By: Lisa Magloff