Plastic pollution is a ballooning problem, and the construction industry often creates literal tons of waste per project. Azure is trying to feed two birds with one swanky-looking scone and turn plastic waste into sleek, affordable new homes.
Ross Maguire and Gene Eidelman started Azure in 2019 with decades of experience in the construction industry at their disposal.
In order to combat the slow, expensive, and wasteful methods of traditional construction, the pair decided to make small studios and ADUs, accessory dwelling units, out of 3D-printed recycled plastic.
Azure aims to lower home costs by reducing construction time and labor requirements with technology like large-scale 3D printing and assembly methods like prefabrication, where most of the building is assembled off-site in a factory or another controlled environment.
The company has also set out to divert some plastic from landfills and “repurpose a waste product that is kind of causing a headache globally,” as Maguire told FastCompany.
Azure prints and builds attractive, sleek, modern-looking modules that start as low as $26,900 for a 120-square-foot backyard office, not including site preparation and utility connections costs. FastCompany estimates that those will tack on another 30% to your total. If you want a bit more space, or a bathroom, you can select from a range of ADUs sized 180 to 900 sq. ft.
Iris, Azure’s smallest studio bedroom model, features a small kitchen, bathroom, and space for a bed for a hair under $44,000 at the time of writing. It’ll also be made of about 100,000 water bottles worth of recycled plastic.
Azure claims that the print material it uses is 60% recycled. Right now, the size of modules are limited by shipping restraints, but they can be connected to create bigger buildings.
To order your own Azure studio, first you’d design it in the site’s upcoming 3D modeler and pick an installation site. Next, your floor, ceiling, and two walls are 3D printed in a day while pre-engineered panels are readied to complete the structure.
The module is then assembled in Azure’s Los Angeles factory while awaiting the site’s concrete foundation to be installed. Finally, the studio ships to your site to be completely set up in three days or less.
Plastic recycling has had a rough few years. China stopped accepting most of the world’s plastic in 2018 after the country was overwhelmed with imports. Recyclers nationwide were shocked to learn that most of their plastic wasn’t really getting recycled in the U.S. either. And recently, a Greenpeace report has revealed that only 5% of plastic waste in 2021 was recycled in the United States.
It turns out that most plastic is difficult and unprofitable to recycle, unlike paper, metal, and glass. Azure’s recycled plastic aims to make a dent in the world’s plastic waste problem. Still, experts believe long-term solutions will need to focus on systems of reuse and refill while refusing plastic production altogether.
Delivery of Azure’s studios and dwellings is expected to begin after Nov. 1, 2022. The company plans to make larger homes available in 2024.