Kauai project hopes to solve beach plastic pollution problem with ByBlocks

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After last summer’s lava flow created a pristine beach line at Pohoiki on Hawaii Island, National Geographic pointed out that the beach may not be as clean as it should be. The publication stated that for every 50 grains of sand on the new beach, 21 plastic bits can be found.

Across the island chain on Kauai, the County, the Surfrider Foundation, and Schmidt Marine Technology Partners collaborated with New Zealand-based company ByFusion in hopes to solve Hawaii’s massive ocean and beach plastic problem. Last week Island School celebrated the dedication of a new athletic pavilion constructed with plastic waste ByBlocks, the first in the United States.

ByFusion makes ByBlocks, which can replace cinder concrete blocks in building construction. ByBlocks are made from plastic waste, which is compressed with steam and pressure to form the blocks in a machine called The Blocker. The ByBlocks are held by rebar and metal, then finished with stucco.

The project at Island School used about 2.4 tons of marine debris cleaned up on Kauai.

ByBlocks

“We continue to struggle with our solid waste and running out of space at our landfill, and today we’re seeing a wonderful example of how innovation and partnership with Island School and hopefully the County of Kauai one day. I’d love to have a few of these structures at our parks.” Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami said.

Hawaii is one of the areas of the ocean hit hardest by plastic pollution from the ocean. It is estimated that between 4.8 and 12.7 million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year.

“We think this is a perfect thing for the islands to be able to recycle both the plastic trash from the homes and the 10,000 pounds of plastic beach debris that we pick up each and every month.” Surfrider Foundation Kauai Chapter Senior Scientist Carl Berg said.

Dr. Berg would like to see ByFusion’s The Blocker machine in Hawaii, but it will take funds for a pilot project.

“In this case these blocks can be used for retaining walls, for sheds, a building like this, but until we get all of the final engineering specs we can’t use it for actual housing at the moment.”

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