Ecobrick Questions & Answers
Using large 25l oil containers for bricks
Hi all, I've been approached by the manager of a local (but national in UK) chain restaurant who wants to get involved with making Eco Bricks. They produce a huge amount of plastic waste each day and are trying to find a way to reduce this but also want to use it making Eco Bricks.
The bottles they have available to fill are 5L jerry can style oil containers, or 25L oil containers. My question is that the 5L containers would need over 1kg of plastic to meet density requirements but the 25L container would need an ENORMOUS amount. Is there a practical way to use the huge containers?
This is a very interesting question that our team has considered in other contexts.
In order to understand it properly we would need to see a picture of the oil containers. If I understand correctly, essentially you would be making an extra large Ocean Ecobrick. See www.ecobricks.org/ocean for details on this method of securing plastic.
Ecobricks are all about safely securing plastic indefinitely. That said, we do not advocate the use of glass or metal cans to sequester plastic, as the risk of these breaking, degrading or cracking over time is higher than that of a plastic bottle which has been properly put to use (i.e. embedded in an earth construction).
The second concern is whether you can pack the large container tight enough to fill up the volume effectively. This is one advantage of bottles under 2L. One can effectively press down the plastic and making a solid building block. My personal experience making 1.5L ocean ecobricks and experimenting with 5L bottles is that it is really hard work to get the bottle densely packed.
The danger of not filling up your bottle fully will be a reduction in structural integrity and greater flammability. Now, depending on the bottle itself, the increase in these risks may be minimal-- but it is important to factor them in nonetheless before you embark on this. I highly recommend you have experience with normal ecobricks before trying jumbo ecobricks.
The last consideration is what will you use the jumbo ecobricks for? We've had difficulty imagining applications that fully meet regenerative and cradle to cradle principles, and which ensure that the brick and the plastic is safely secured.
Although it seems at first that it would be much easier to just pack all the plastic into a jumbo bottle, I came to the personal conclusion that it was more effective to make lots of small ecobricks rather than one jumbo ecobrick.
I hope that helps! Feel free to post a photo of your containers.
P.S. If your company is seriously interested in plastic transition, using ecobricks, please consider our Ecobrick Catalyst Program. We are looking for help running a Training of Trainers in the UK in May 2019.
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