ByFusion Becomes Off-take Partner for the Largest Ocean Cleanup In History

ByFusion Becomes Off-take Partner for the Largest Ocean Cleanup In History

ByFusion teams up with Ocean Voyages Institute to convert 40,000 lbs of plastic waste from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch into construction-grade building material

ByFusion announces off-take partnership with Ocean Voyages Institute (OVI), repurposing 20 tons of marine debris and plastic waste into construction grade building materials. The ByFusion-OVI partnership will ‘close the loop’ on the largest ocean clean up in history by not only removing plastic waste from our oceans but giving it a permanent purpose by converting it to a building material that can be used for modular structures, landscaping, sheds, outdoor spaces, and a number of other applications.

In June 2020, OVI completed a 48-day mission to collect plastic marine debris from the ocean which took place in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP), located halfway between Hawaii and California. The GPGP is the largest of the five offshore plastic accumulation zones in the world, spanning an area twice the size of Texas.

The Kwai, the ship collecting the debris, departed from Hilo, Hawaii on May 4, 2020 and returned to Honolulu, Hawaii on June 29, 2020. Mary Crowley, the Founder & Executive Director of OVI, spearheaded the plastic cleanup efforts which ultimately removed more than 100 tons of plastic from the Pacific Ocean–the largest collection in history.

“It’s an honor to have all these toxic materials out of the ocean,” said Crowley. “They’ll be recycled and repurposed—nothing will end up in a landfill, nothing will ever go back in the ocean. The ocean is a source of health for us as a planet and for us as human beings. We have to take care of it and provide a healthy habitat for ocean creatures.”

Of the debris collected, ByFusion will repurpose 20 tons into approximately 4,000 construction-grade building blocks which will be put to use in a number of projects, exhibitions, and products that will be available in the market later this year.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of this important initiative, supporting the incredible work that OVI is doing to clean up the ocean,” said Heidi Kujawa, CEO of ByFusion. “Our zero waste process creates a valuable building material from all types of plastic waste, including marine debris and fishing nets, ensuring the plastic is repurposed and put to good use.”

The remaining 80 tons of marine debris will be converted into reusable fuel, shoes, apparel, and more. This record-breaking 103 ton cleanup is just the beginning of collecting and giving purpose to the 150 million tons of plastic polluting the world’s oceans.

Marine Debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

About ByFusion:

ByFusion® is an innovative manufacturing company committed to preserving the recycling industry, protecting the environment and giving plastic a new life by reshaping its future.

A certified B Corporation, and an essential cog in the wheel of a circular economy, ByFusion has a patented process that converts all types of plastic waste into an advanced building material called ByBlock®. ByFusion’s recycling solution enables communities, corporations and governments to realize a cleaner world while creating jobs, improving infrastructure and revitalizing neighborhoods. ByFusion has been recognized by The New York Times, Forbes, Fast Company, Architect, Recycling Today, WasteDive, 1% for the Planet, US Green Building Council, and the Alliance to End Plastic Waste.

Connect with the ByFusion Community:

A Sea Change for Plastic

A Sea Change for Plastic

Architects and designers are finding new workplace and household uses for the stuff polluting our oceans.

NEW YORK TIMES | by Tim McKeough | Nov 20, 2019

This article is part of our (New York Times) November Design special section, which focuses on style, function and form in the workplace.

Unwanted plastics clog landfills and sully city streets and nature preserves. Most alarming to many, the material is beginning to overwhelm the planet’s oceans — from the ballooning Great Pacific Garbage Patch to trash discovered in the Pacific’s deepest reaches.

The amount of plastic streaming into the oceans is roughly the equivalent of a full garbage truck every minute, according to a 2016 report by the World Economic Forum, Ellen MacArthur Foundation and McKinsey & Company.

Even when we undertake the herculean job of scooping plastic trash from the sea or collecting it from beaches, the challenge remains: What to do with it?

This is the question that architects, designers and consumer product companies are now exploring.

At Snohetta, an architecture firm based in Norway, Stian Alessandro Ekkernes Rossi began Plast two years ago. Plast is a research project aimed at finding new uses for recycled plastics and encouraging people to see the material as a resource rather than waste.

Mr. Rossi, who is an architect by training, made his own machines to grind, melt and mold different types of plastic trash into strangely beautiful new materials, including some with glassy and opalescent finishes.

“It’s interesting how something that’s perceived as so low-end and cheap is really functional and long-lasting, and has amazing advantages,” he said.

“People were really upset and having a political debate about whether plastic was good or bad,” he added. “Plastic is good if it’s used smartly, and bad if it’s used poorly.”

To put Mr. Rossi’s research into practice, Snohetta partnered with Nordic Comfort Products, a furniture company in the north of Norway that had produced a best-selling side chair called R-48, designed in the 1960s. The company re-created the chair, now named the S-1500, with a marbleized shell made entirely from recycled plastic fishing nets, ropes and pipes reclaimed from area fish farms.

Now, Snohetta is in talks with other companies about bolder applications. “We’re looking closely at how we relate it to architecture and infrastructure,” Mr. Rossi said.

Others are finding uses for plastic before it reaches the water.

ByFusion, a company that turns plastic waste into concrete-like building blocks called ByBlocks recently built a demonstration lifeguard tower in June in Manhattan Beach, Calif., and a school pavilion in Lihue, Hawaii.

In 2017, the nonprofit Lonely Whale and the computer company Dell created NextWave, an initiative for developing products made of ocean-bound plastic. The current members are HP, General Motors, Ikea, Herman Miller, Humanscale, Trek Bicycle, Interface and Bureo.

“The goal is to turn off the tap of plastic going into the water,” said Dune Ives the executive director of Lonely Whale, who defined ocean-bound plastic as plastic trash within 50 kilometers, or about 31 miles, of a waterway or coastal area that is on the ground and “also likely never to be picked up because there’s no value to it.”

Dell’s NextWave project has been collecting plastic bottles and jugs in Indonesia that it transforms into packaging for electronics.

HP uses recycled ocean-bound plastic in its ink cartridges and has started incorporating some of the material in laptops and other computer hardware. In April, it reported gathering more than 25 million plastic bottles in Haiti.

Last year, Humanscale introduced the Smart Ocean task chair, a version of its Diffrient Smart Chair that uses almost two pounds of nylon from recycled fishing nets. The material comes from Bureo, a company that collects discarded fishing nets in Chile and recycles them into plastic pellets that can then be molded into new products.

Discarded fishing gear is a significant part of the problem, Ms. Ives said, estimating that it represents about 10 to 20 percent of all plastic in the oceans. A study of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch completed last year by Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit, found that 46 percent of the mass was discarded fishing gear.

“When a fishing net reaches the end of its life, they just cut it loose and let it go into the ocean, where it does a tremendous amount of damage,” said Robert King, the chief executive of Humanscale. “Marine animals get tangled in it and killed, and it can destroy ecosystems on the bottom.”

To capture more of the material, Humanscale is now working with Bureo to transform nylon from fishing nets into thread that can be knitted into upholstery fabric. “Ultimately, we’d really like to turn most of our textiles into ocean textiles,” Mr. King said.

Humanscale is also developing a chair made entirely from ocean-bound plastic, which Mr. King said he hopes to introduce next year.

Bicycle components are incorporating troublesome plastics, as well. Trek used Bureo nylon to re-engineer its best-selling Bat Cage water bottle holder earlier this year, and and began making mud guards for all its electric mountain bikes out of recycled ocean-bound plastic in September.

“There are many other applications as well — we’re looking at bicycle saddles, grips, fenders,” said Stefan Berggren, a senior product compliance engineer at Trek. “We’ve challenged all our product groups.”These are early days, however, and the new products use only a tiny quantity of the plastic currently threatening ocean life.Eric Bjorling, the director of brand marketing and public relations at Trek, is nevertheless hopeful the initiative will grow. “Small hinges swing big doors: That’s a Trek-ism we use around here,” he said.Most people involved with recycling ocean-bound plastic stress the importance of expanding supply chains so they can capture more material, while also driving demand among manufacturers to use it.“The intention is really good,” said Graham Forbes, a global project leader focused on plastics at Greenpeace. However, “those supply chains, at least in the next 20 or 30 years, are never going to be able to catch up with the vast amount of production. In some ways, it reinforces the illusion that we can continue to use plastic in the throwaway model.”The organization is pushing for something more effective, he said: “Simply using less plastic.”Ikea is one NextWave company doing just that. In June, furniture giant introduced Musselblomma, its first small collection of products made with ocean plastic. Comprising a reusable bag, cushion cover and tablecloth designed by Studio Inma Bermúdez, in Valencia, Spain, the collection is made partly from plastic waste pulled out of the Mediterranean Sea by Spanish fishermen.At the same time, the company has committed to removing all single-use plastics from its range by the beginning of 2020. “That’s the plastic straws, freezer bags, garbage bags and a number of other items, both those that we sell in our stores, but also the plastic items we use in the restaurants and bistros in all of our stores, globally,” said Caroline Reid, Ikea’s sustainability development manager.These efforts are part of Ikea’s larger goal, Ms. Reid said, to become “a circular business by 2030,” using only renewable and recycled materials. “It’s really about eliminating waste,” she said, “and making sure we live within the limits of our planet.”
Building for the Future

Building for the Future

THE GARDEN ISLAND | Words & Photos by: Jessica Else | August 1, 2019

PUHI — There’s a new building on Kauai made out of plastic marine debris and plastic household waste.

It’s an athletic pavilion built with blocks that resemble oversized Lego pieces. The debris that was once cluttering shorelines and endangering sea life is providing shade for athletes and onlookers at Island School.

It’s also an example of an innovative way to use the thousands of pounds of plastic gathered on Kauai each month.

Not only is the building the first on Kauai to be made out of the blocks — a product of the New Zealand-based ByFusion Company — it’s the first in the United States.

“This demonstrates to the world how to combat the plastic crisis that’s plagued our oceans,” said ByFusion Company’s Chief Executive Officer Heidi Kujawa, who attended Wednesday’s blessing of the building.

Kumu Sabra Kauka led the ceremony.

“You really raised the bar today,” Kauka said before she began the blessing. “What you see is a beautiful building, but what it represents … (I’m) excited to be the first in Hawaii for something like this.”

The blocks form the walls of the pavilion, and the spaces in between are filled with traditional building materials like rebar, stucco and trusses. The building is about 20 feet in length and is situated by the school’s soccer field.

Each block is made out of shredded, cleaned plastic waste compressed into a solid rectangle at ByFusion’s only processing facility in New Zealand. They’re touted as a cheaper form of construction because they’re lighter and require fewer materials for building.

Stucco covers the plastic blocks, sealing them and the gasses they produce should they decompose.

It’s a pilot project that’s brought together the County of Kauai, Surfrider Foundation, Island School, ByFusion and the island’s construction community.

Carl Berg, senior science adviser for Surfrider Kauai, says the long-term goal is to bring a ByFusion facility to Hawaii. That would bring manufacturing of the blocks closer to home and present a real potential for recycling marine debris in the state.

The cost of that was originally estimated between $1 million and $3 million. However, Kujawa says the cost could be lower.

Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami looked over the blocks and said he’d love to put structures made from the blocks in parks all over the island.

“We want to leave a legacy behind,” Kawakami said. “One thing we don’t want to leave behind is our opala.”

Lifeguard tower built from plastic waste offers glimpse of future

Lifeguard tower built from plastic waste offers glimpse of future

Plastic bricks could create a new use for waste at a time when recycling markets are shrinking

THE DAILY BREEZE | by Martin Wisckol | Photos by Chuck Bennett | June 9, 2019

The lifeguard tower being built Saturday on Bruce’s Beach in Manhattan Beach is not just another oceanfront lookout.

The tower, erected as part of that beach’s World Oceans Day activities, could part of the solution to the scourge of plastic pollution, a large portion of which ends up in the ocean.

That’s because the structure was built with bricks made from discarded plastic.

While most recycled plastic uses require a specific chemical makeup, the innovative ByFusion bricks used Saturday can be made with any mix of recyclable plastics — Nos. 1 through 7 — except for polystyrene. They don’t need to be pre-washed or sorted, according to company literature. And these “ByBlocks” are stronger than cinder blocks and can be similarly covered with paneling or stucco.

“The waste management-recycling industry is in a critical state and must change to meet the shifting market,” ByFusion CEO Heidi Kujawa said of the opportunities driving the company’s vision. “We’re entering the market at a pivotal time.”

Less than 10 percent of plastics worldwide are recycled and with China phasing out the import of recyclables, the market is rapidly shrinking. In California, plastics Nos. 3 through 7 are increasingly ending up in the landfill because of the dwindling international demand and the lack of domestic markets.

The state’s landfill diversion rate was 50 percent in 2014. But that was down to 42 percent by 2017 (the last year for which statistics are available) because of increased consumerism generated by a strong economy and a shrinking demand for recyclables.

Niche product?

Sacramento lawmakers are considering several additional measures to reduce plastic use and increase domestic recyclable markets, but ByFusion’s machines that transform scrap plastic into construction bricks are a step ahead of the new laws.

The company, founded in New Zealand in 2015 and about to open Los Angeles operations, is debuting its technology with plans to make it publicly available by the end of the year. Aside from a portable one-room office built from ByFusion bricks in New Zealand, the Manhattan Beach lifeguard tower and a school pavilion under construction in Kauai are the first structures built using ByBlocks.

Santa Monica-based Heal the Bay, which helped organize a cleanup at Bruce’s Beach on Saturday, applauded ByFusion’s efforts but questioned how big of a recycler it will prove to be.

“I think this is a niche product,” said Emily Parker, a marine scientist with the non-profit environmental group. “I don’t think all our buildings are going to be built from this.”

ByFusion’s Kujawa acknowledged that “not every building will be built using ByBlocks.” But she also said the product has widespread applications and the company would be publicizing possible uses in the months ahead.

Besides end uses for the ByBlocks, the company also is exploring sources for the waste that goes into making them. For instance, the company has teamed with Channel Island Surfboards and Sustainable Surf to explore recycling waste from the surfboard manufacturing process.

“This has the potential to recycle all of the surfboard foam waste in California, thus eliminating one of the biggest waste streams in surfboard manufacturing,” said Kevin Whilden, co-founder of Sustainable Surf, a non-profit that certifies environmentally friendly surfboards.

Transformation machine

A machine dubbed The Blocker is responsible for turning the plastic debris into construction material. It shreds the plastic then uses “super-heated” water and compression to make the ByBlocks.

“The retail prices will be comparable to common hollow cinder blocks but only produce a fraction of the greenhouse gases,” Kujawa said. There are no chemicals or adhesives added in the process.

But while ByFusion is touting its bricks with promotional activities such as the lifeguard tower construction, its also trying to arouse interest in The Blocker machines its selling to make them. Kujawa said the company is currently talking to potential manufacturers of the machines in the United States and hopes to have some in use by the end of the year.

Customers are expected to be recycling centers, waste management facilities and municipalities, she said.

New Lifeguard Tower to Divert 1,420 Pounds of Plastic Waste From Ocean

New Lifeguard Tower to Divert 1,420 Pounds of Plastic Waste From Ocean

This weekend, ByFusion is building a lifeguard tower from surfboard foam and plastic

SURFER MAGAZINE | by Zander Morton | Photo Credit: Jacob Repko |

100 years ago Leo Baekeland invented plastic and it was quickly adopted for use in nearly every industry in the world. Plastic changed the way we created and consumed basically everything. But the flip side to that, as we all know, is plastic takes so long to decompose that virtually every bit is still around today. There are 8.3 billion tons of plastic in the world and less than nine percent of it is recycled.

While plastic serves a useful purpose, the single use variety–especially bags and bottles–are poisoning our planet. Used once and discarded in minutes, they end up in our oceans and waterways, killing hundreds of thousands of marine mammals and birds every year.

When it comes to large-scale change, progress is painfully slow. But still, some groups and organizations are taking action, as demonstrated by governments like Bali (banning single use plastics), and other groups around the globe.

One such group is ByFusion, a manufacturing company in the recycling industry, committed to giving previously unrecyclable plastic a new life by reshaping its future. It works like this:

ByFusion invented a way to convert plastic waste into a building material called ByBlock, rather than it ending up in landfills. The best part, it can be done without having to sort, process or clean the plastic first, and it can be shaped into the size of a cinder-block (by using steam and pressure) that doesn’t crack or crumble. Once shaped, it can be used to build.

To demonstrate how it works, and in honor of World Oceans Day, ByFusion partnered with Sustainable Surf and Channel Islands Surfboards to create a lifeguard tower made from 1,420 pounds of disregarded plastic, as well as foam waste from shaping surfboards. It’s all happening this Saturday in Manhattan Beach, alongside a beach cleanup (to collect more plastic to be used to build future ByBlocks), and a chance to surf with Alex Gray.

While the event at Bruce’s Beach will be the first time the world has seen ByBlocks put to use, it won’t be the last.

ByFusion also donated ByBlocks (made from marine debris and old fishing nets collected off the beaches of Kauai), to build a permanent school pavilion at The Island School in Lihue, Kauai. And according to ByFusion’s CEO Heidi Kujawa, the pavilion in Kauai and the lifeguard tower in LA are only the beginning.

“We’ve been working hard over the past several years to develop an innovative system to help the recycling industry address the plastic waste crisis by being able to recycle plastics that were previously considered unrecyclable,” says Kujawa. “We’re excited to finally be ready to bring it to the world, starting with this event on World Oceans Day as well as a broader reach into the United States later this year.”