A new project broke ground at the Portswood District of the V&A Waterfront last year. The project upcycles a significant stream of plastic waste using sustainable methods. The project in question is the Ridge Building, a bespoke eco-building currently under construction. It will serve as the regional office of a multinational client, Deloitte.
Mark Noble, Development Director at the V&A Waterfront, says that recycled beverage bottles are being used as ‘ecobricks’ on site. Made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles, these include ‘Coke’ 2 litre bottles. The ecobricks will be used as void formers in the concrete slabs in the central toilet areas on each floor of The Ridge.
The bottles are filled to constant density with waste plastics. This waste includes chip packets, candy wrappings, shopping bags and waste generated on site. The ecobricks were donated by community volunteers and scholars from Cape Town’s suburbs and quality control is undertaken on site by the main contractor. The checked bottles then get used as void-formers at the Ridge.
“Often, builders incorporate void-forming materials into concrete slabs. These are of a much lower weight than concrete. They are sometimes made of expanded polystyrene (EPS). Under normal loads, these voids do not undermine the structural strength of the slab. But they offer many other benefits, which is why we use them.
“The recycled PET bottles are called ecobricks. To the best of our knowledge, the Ridge is the first large commercial building in the world to do this,” says Noble.
“Together with our various other established recycling programmes, which include a substantial quantity of the building waste from the SILO project being re-used, these techniques make a vital contribution to the circular economy. The is what we term ‘Our Normal’, a bold step into participating in this new economy and the environmental challenges we face”, he concludes.