Plastic Sequestration

Putting Plastic on a Safe & Secure Mellium Road Through Ecobricking

The word “sequester” means to isolate, cut-off and seclude. ‘Plastic Sequestration’ means just this: to secure plastic out of the biosphere and put it on a thousand-year road in which it doesn’t contaminate ecosystems or us.

The science is clear.  Plastic loose in the biosphere harms ecologies, humans and animals.  Putting plastic on a secured journey through the next centuries has never been more important.

Alas, the research is also clear:  industrial waste management is failing to put plastic on a safe road.  Instead almost all plastic that enters industrial ‘waste management systems’, eventually seeps out loose into the environment.   Industry is not driven by ecological-care, but by recovering the capital-value of plastic.  Over the last 50 years, motivated by the pursuit of profit, industrial incineration, land-filling and recycling have led to the release of 89% of all plastic ever created into the environment.  That’s alot of plastic.

Truly sequestering plastic means also keeping it out of capital-driven, for-profit, industrial systems.  This is where ecobricks come in. 

Ecobricking, as a people-powered initiative is not driven by profit, but by the planet-passion of individuals and communities.  Ecobricking uses the very longevity and durability of plastic to contain plastic.  By keeping the plastic local, we can also be sure to keep it out of global industry. And unlike industrial methods, sequestration by ecobricking can be authenticated!   Not by self-interested capital, but by neighbourly community review.

It's all about surface area

To the degree that plastic’s surface area is maximized and exposed, the faster and more likely it is to degrade into ecological toxins.

For the last couple hundred million years, the Earth has buried and stored the organic material from ancient forests, ocean algae, and dinausaurs deep underground.   In so doing, all the carbon was compacted, compressed and kept out of the atmosphere.   Over all this time, fossil fuel deposits were formed.  Recently, humans been tapping these deposits to extract oil and gas.

In so doing, industry has been undoing the long process of compacting the carbon that these deposits represent.  Crude oil is extract and refined into fuels which are burned, releasing CO2 gas loose into the atmosphere.  A similar process happens with plastic.  When crude oil is refined, not all of it can be used for fuel.  The left over happens to be perfect for making plastic.   A “cracking” process creates small beads or nodules, that are the feed-stock for plastic products.  These are then turned into thin films, bags, bottles and more.

See the pattern?  With each step along the way, plastic’s surface area increases in order to maximize utility and profit.

Unfortunately, plastic degrades when it is exposed to sun, water and friction. The degradation process corresponds directly to the amount of surface area of the plastic that is exposed.  This “photodegradation” along with physical abrasion, fragments plastic debris into smaller and smaller particles, know as microplastics. Although with each fragmentation the pieces of plastic get smaller, in fact the net surface area of all the plastic increases.   More and more scientists are discovering the dangers arising from plastic degradation. Microplastics can be toxic to ecosystems, accumulate in food-chains and cause economic damage because of food safety concerns.

Learn more about the story of plastic:
Plastic: Good or Bad?

The 1000 Year Journey

Because plastic is potentialy toxic and can endure for so long, it is our responsiblity to put it on a path that anticipates its security for at least the next thousand years.

Unlike, industry, ecobricking is all about decreasing the net surface area of plastic.   By packing thin, high-surface area plastic into a bottle, the net exposed area is reduced a thousand fold.  We call this the ‘This terminal minimization of net surface area‘.  Basically, it means that packed tight into a bottle, the plastic is effectively and indefinitely kept safe from all forms of potential degradation.

In addition, we make sure that the ways we use ecobricks keep them safe for the short and long-term.  This means not just that they won’t be damaged, but that they can be used over and over again.

Ecobricks can be put to all sorts of great short term, circular and modular applications that lead to long-term appliations.  The first and easiest application of ecobrick is in making modules.  Modules are cradle-to-cradle by design.   This means that when a module comes to its end, the ecobrick can be taken out and put to use in another module.

A forgotten earth and ecobrick bench after seven years.

After several cycles, an ecobricker may have gathered enough ecobricks for an earth and ecobrick build.  Such constructions are  long-term and also cradle-to-cradle– so when an earth build comes to its end, the ecobrick can be taken out and used in another building. In earthen constructions ecobricks are completely encased. Because the cob blocks all exposure to sun, friction, or heat the plastic inside the ecobricks can no longer degrade in any way. Even if long-term structures collapse, earth covered ecobricks have no way to degrade and will remain intact indefinitely.  The latent fertility of cob, enables the regrowth of plants, trees and forests over abandoned constructions.

By building with earth using cradle-to-cradle principles, sets ecobricks on a long-term journey through time that maximizes the indefinite securing plastic.

Ecobricks, in this way, we can replicate nature’s system of sequestration.  Just as the Earth slowly stored prehistoric carbon biomass under the ground, we can do the same.  The Earth’s prehistory processes kept billions of tons of hydrocarbons out of the atmosphere, stabilizing climate and gifting future eras. In the same way, ecobrick earthen construction enables us to indefinitely secure plastic and its hydrocarbons from becoming toxins, microplastics or from reaching the atmosphere as C02.

Read more about Ecobrick & Earth Building

Read more about the longevity of plastic under the earth

The Importance of Quality Ecobricks

 

It is important to note that long term sequestration isn’t assured when ecobricks are squishy and poorly made.   Such ecobricks bend and dent easily.  Not only are they not as structurally sound as a properly packed ecobrick, the indentation of PET accelerates its degradation.   Over time, stress point on PET faster through usage compression and sun exposure and rupture

Learn more about the importance of quality ecobricks being put to proper use:
The GEA Andrew Report)

 

 

Authenticated Plastic Sequestration

The GoBrik platform and Brikcoin manual blockchain enable the global community of ecobrickers to review ecobricks, provide feedback, and determine if the plastic inside has been properly sequetered.

Due to the ciritical importance of well made ecobricks to ensure long-term sequetration, the GEA maintains and develops the GoBrik platform and the Brikcoin manual blockchain.  The Ecobricks that are logged on GoBrik are be peer reviewed to ensure that they meet minimum GEA standards. When an ecobrick is successfully authenticated, it is added to the Brikchain, made available for exchanges, and Brikcoins are generated representing its sequestered plastic. Only authenticated ecobricks are considered authenticated sequestered plastic.

Learn more about the Brikcoin Manual Blockchain

Contrast to Industrial Pathways

The results of industrial pathways for managing plastic result in the opposite goals of plastic sequestration.  Industrial methods, such as recycling, incineration and landfilling promote the global distribution and disbursement of plastic.  Moving from its original source of concentrated petroleum or natural gas, to a plastic pellet that is distributed to factories around the world, the resulting products are used, reused-several-times, then set loose into the environment.   concentrated form as a small pellet, to its scattering in the biosphere.

The analysis of the fate of industrially managed plastic is clearest in the report “Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made” that concludes:  “As of 2015, approximately 6300 Mt of plastic waste had been generated, around 9% of which had been recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% was accumulated in landfills or the natural environment.”

Learn more about the Story of Plastic

Single Use Plastic & CoVid-19

GoBrik has been updated to assist with the CoVid-19 pandemic.  Breaking research into corona-viruses outside the body, shows that of all surfaces tested, the virus lasts the longest and is the most transmissible on plastic. The GEA’s new Enhanced Ecobricking Guidelines can help prevent this transmission. Follow the Guidelines and log ecobricks with a ‘C’ during this time.

Regenerative

Ecobricking is a what we call a regenerative technology. Rather than "sustaining" the status quo, we're careful that everything we do re-greens rather than greys.

Our Principles

Why Ecobrick?

Ecobricks keep plastic & C02 out of the biosphere.  Ecobricks raise ecological consciousness.  And more!

Why we Pack

https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/marine-litter/publications