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plastic bottle eco brick filled with soft plastics

Reducing Plastic Waste with Durable Bottle Eco Bricks: Is it a Good Solution for Disposing of Soft Plastics?

| Fiona Caie

Eco bricks are an innovative and eco-friendly solution for managing plastic waste. By tightly compressing soft plastics into empty plastic bottles, they create dense bricks that can be used for various purposes in the home or community projects such as furniture, walls, or simple building projects. This low-tech approach to plastic recycling empowers individuals to take responsibility for their plastic waste and transform it into a long-lasting and durable material.

Why make eco bricks?

Soft plastic waste is one of the biggest environmental challenges we face today. Since the closure of the REDcycle soft plastics recycling program, we’ve been reluctantly putting the waste in the bin. It is estimated that over 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans every year, causing harm to marine life and ecosystems. Eco bricks are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional waste management of the soft plastics that can’t be disposed of safely and easily. By using plastic bottles to create bricks, we can reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfill.

What are eco bricks and how are they made? 

To make a standard eco brick, a transparent PET plastic bottle of any size is used. Both the bottle and the plastic being used should be cleaned and dried to avoid bacterial growth. Soft plastics can be collected from a range of sources, including plastic bags, packaging, and wrappers. The plastic is cut or torn into small pieces and packed gradually into the bottle, using a wooden or bamboo stick to manually compress it firmly layer by layer.

To ensure even compression throughout the bottle, the bottle is rotated with each press. This method prevents voids and ensures that the packing reaches the necessary solidity required for use as a building block. Once the bottle is full, the lid can be screwed on tightly, and the eco brick is complete.

What are eco bricks used for?

Eco bricks can be used to make simple furniture such as chairs, tables, and stools. The bricks can be stacked and secured together with strong adhesive. They can be used to make sturdy play structures for children, such as climbing walls. Additionally, they can be used in walls for constructing and insulating but are not suitable for load-bearing walls.

The Plastic Bottle Village in Panama aims to build an entire village using eco bricks and other recycled materials. The project has been running since 2015 and has so far built several homes and other structures using eco bricks.

This village not only provides affordable housing for locals but also helps to reduce plastic waste in the region.

Are Eco Bricks safe?

When eco bricks are made correctly, with clean and dry plastic packed tightly into the bottle, it is less likely that the plastic will leach out into soil. The tightly packed plastic is enclosed within the plastic bottle and will not come into direct contact with the soil.

However, eco bricks should not be used as a long-term solution for disposing of plastic waste. Exposure to sunlight over time and environmental conditions can cause the plastic to degrade and potentially release harmful chemicals into the soil or surrounding environment.

Therefore, it is important to use eco bricks for basic projects like building simple structures or furniture. This will minimise the risk of any plastic leaching into the soil or surrounding environment.

Should we be using them?

Eco bricks offer an ideal opportunity for individuals to be accountable and take personal responsibility for their own plastic waste and make a positive impact on the environment.

However, it is important to note that eco bricks are not a complete solution to the problem of plastic waste and should not be viewed as a replacement for refusing, reducing, reusing, and recycling plastic.

Overall, eco bricks are a useful tool in managing plastic waste and creating sustainable structures, but they should be used in conjunction with other waste reduction strategies and handled with care to minimize any negative environmental impacts. Nothing is better than avoiding plastic altogether.

Can we ever be rid of plastic in packaging?

Avoiding plastics is the best solution all round. At this time, that’s not possible as we are faced with everyday items being packaged in plastic, some with no sustainable alternatives. So, what can we do as individuals to push for change?

Sign petitions that call for companies and governments to reduce the use of plastic packaging. Petitions are a powerful tool for raising awareness and showing decision-makers that there is public support for change.

Contact companies and government officials to express concerns about plastic packaging and urge them to act, via emails, letters, or social media.

Shopping habits have a significant impact on the decisions that companies make about what products to produce and how to package them. By changing our shopping habits and supporting products that are eco-friendly or have sustainable packaging, we can send a message to companies that there is a demand for these types of products. This can lead to changes in the manufacturing process and the types of products that are mass-produced.



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