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Company develops low-cost, Lego-like construction bricks that can withstand natural disasters — and they're made from plastic trash

The blocks are twice as strong as five-inch cinder blocks and weigh only one-tenth as much.

The blocks are twice as strong as five-inch cinder blocks and weigh only one-tenth as much.

Photo Credit: YouTube

People around the world are searching for ways to recover from natural disasters, and one Finnish company has an answer: interlocking blocks made from plastic trash.

The Lego-like blocks are made by Block solutions, a company focused on sustainable and affordable building. The construction method employs recycled polypropylene and other plastics mixed with wood byproducts from the forest industry or other organic fibers, Plastics Engineering reported.

The blocks don't require machines, electricity, or skilled labor as they're put together into usable structures. All you need is a rubber hammer, water level, and ring wrench, according to the news outlet. It takes two people two-and-a-half hours to build a 30-square-meter (roughly 323-square-foot) framework.

The blocks — made from household waste and "other sources with safe and traceable origins," as CEO Sanna Silfverberg told Plastics Engineering — are twice as strong for load-bearing as five-inch cinder blocks and weigh only one-tenth as much. They need to be covered in gypsum board or concrete to meet fire-resistant standards.

Since 2017, founder Markus Silfverberg and the Block solutions team have worked to "revolutionize the construction industry." The company has grown internationally and helped communities around the world recover from devastation.

After an earthquake in Lombok, Indonesia, in 2018, Block solutions partnered with Classroom of Hope Ltd. to construct a five-room school in six days. It cost about half what a typical school would cost, per Plastics Engineering.

"It would usually take around three to six months, but these blocks are fully interlocking and come in groups of two, four and eight, which makes things quicker," Classroom of Hope founder Duncan Ward told the outlet.

The Lombok project has since expanded to include Block solutions' first factory in Asia and a goal to erect more than 200 schools. According to Plastics Engineering, Ward said that each classroom uses 2.2 to 3.3 tons of plastic waste — which keeps that plastic from polluting the environment. Block Solutions reports that the carbon footprint of its block product is "close to zero," as well.

These benefits are essential as we try to change the way we buy and use plastic and find plastic-free alternatives to everyday products.

Reducing our plastic consumption and waste production provides health and environmental benefits, too. Only 1% of plastic has ever been recycled twice, per Scientific American, so it ends up in landfills, where it breaks down anaerobically and very slowly, while producing potent methane gas

This is part of a vicious cycle that drives rising global temperatures and extreme weather events, which can contribute to respiratory and heart conditions, mental health issues, violent crimes, and other problems.

These events, including hurricanes, wildfires, and droughts, are becoming more destructive, forcing tens of millions of displacements of people each year — and making Block solutions and similar startups vital to a cleaner, safer future.

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