Published: August 1, 2016

By Barbara Eldredge

More than 300 million tons of plastic trash is generated every year, but less than 8 percent of that waste is recycled. In fact, as much as 12 million tons ends up in the ocean. A new U.S.-based startup, ByFusion, has a novel solution for tackling the growing problem of ocean plastic: turn it into construction material.

The concept is actually pretty simple. Plastic trash collected from the ocean gets compressed into sturdy, construction-quality bricks called RePlast using ByFusion’s patented process.

It sounds straightforward, but the details of the process is where things get interesting. The compressing equipment is small, mobile enough to fit inside of a shipping container, the process is almost entirely carbon neutral, and the density and shape of the blocks is customizable. And, unlike conventional recycling, the RePlast process works for any and all types of plastic without sorting or washing.

The funfetti-looking bricks can be easily stacked and slid onto vertical rebar supports, and then covered in adobe. The end result is indistinguishable from a normal cinderblock wall. Could soda bottle be the building material of the future?