This company turns plastic waste into building materials

Plastic is not made uniformly, “said Heidi Kuzawa, CEO of Bifusion. “It’s very complicated, which is why this problem is really broken.”

Amy Lombard

The very short version of the problem is this: despite all the triangle-arrow recyclable symbols at the bottom of your bottle, most plastics are not recyclable. And stuff that Is Often not recycled anyway, because the process is dirty and cumbersome. Which means your recycling bin may be emptied into a landfill.

Kujawa wants to fix it. He had a successful career in entertainment and technology, but wanted to do something more meaningful. In 2015, he heard of a company that had come up with an interesting idea: it turned old plastic into blocks, which could be used as building materials instead of concrete or brick. “They had a prototype and it worked one of a kind, but not really,” Kujawa said. The company has since closed and the patent has expired. “I said, ‘I know I can do it better.'”

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Now she is. His company, ByFusion, makes machines that literally fuse up to 30 pounds of plastic – no matter what type or how dirty it is – to build blocks that can be used to make walls, furniture, small structures and more. Its work began appearing across the country: a park bench was installed in Boise in February, followed by projects in Tucson and Los Angeles.

On the following pages, you can follow the process of creating a block – as well as a journey to revive a once-failed concept of Kuzawa and put old plastic into practice.

3 Introducing a radical idea

Kuzawa wanted to finance his company, he knew he was a stumbling block: he invented in the waste management and construction industries, both needed new ideas – but “waste management and construction are two huge industries that VCs would never invest in,” Kujawa said. . How can entrepreneurs get funding in neglected areas? First, prove the idea: After the sale of his last company, he himself bootstrapped the first few steps of ByFusion – establishing the market and technology. Before Going to investors. Second, capture the moment: as the culture changes, the business community talks more about climate solutions, “VC starts saying, well, I think we need to start focusing on that,” he says. He has raised a $ 1.5 million seed round.

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3 Returning to the primary level

“I grew up with a hammer in my hand, not necessarily a Barbie doll,” Kujawa said. She always liked construction – “but I soon realized that this was probably not a good career path for a girl in the 70’s and 80’s.” That’s why he’s gone into technology and entertainment. “But I never dropped the hammer.”

3 Who is the customer?

ByFusion’s plan is not just to sell plastic blocks. It sells that machine To do Blocks, and designed them modularly so that a wide range of clients, from waste management companies to municipalities, can use them to meet their needs and then build the blocks themselves. Kuzawa pitched it as a financial, logistical and landfill diversion solution: instead of tackling the problems of costly plastic transportation and related compliance, cities and organizations (and even universities) could build these blocks. ByFusion will buy any surplus and sell in the market on their behalf. “As we have seen with the epidemic, there is a shortage of construction materials. So let’s give them the ability to create their own material. “

Image Credit: All photographs by Amy Lombard

Related: Sustainable business

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