In 2019, the city of Tucson recorded a grand amount of 2500 tons of plastic reaching the local landfill daily and 720,000 tons of plastic reaching the landfill yearly. Plastic has become one of the most prominent and popular materials used in almost every industry from packaging to electronics—to the point where it is almost impossible to walk out of a local grocery store without buying at least one product containing plastic in or on it. Although plastic can be useful, it is very harmful. Plastic kills millions of sea creatures yearly, excretes dangerous chemicals into the Earth, and causes air pollution. As the world progresses, existing problems are becoming worse and new problems are being created, but effective solutions are also being discovered for these problems.

In Tucson, the Plastic Waste Diversion Project was recently initiated by Steve Kozachik to reuse plastic and limit the amount of it that ends up in landfills. This project collects plastic bags, cups, straws, plates, wrappers, cans, lids, and trays to compress into ByBlocks which can be used for various construction projects. A ByBlock is made entirely from recycled and non-recyclable plastic waste, and it uses about 22 pounds of plastic waste per block. These blocks are constructed by shredding, superheating, and, finally, fusing the plastic. This process emits about 41% less greenhouse gasses than concrete blocks. This project is very ecologically effective, and its required resources, like plastic, are sadly abundant, but one of the most important parts of this project is community participation.

Although this project has already been initiated, and there have been several benches built in local parks using ByBlocks, the project has not yet been approved by the city. The Plastic Waste Diversion Plan has been successful in other communities in California and Arizona. Local business owners, companies, and schools have shown great interest in participating as a community, and it is very easy to help reduce the plastic waste in our lives by simply collecting plastic from your household or school. Gathering plastic from our day to day lives and dropping it off at a local drop-off site would greatly impact the city’s views on this project, making Tucson a more eco-friendly city with the community’s support and participation.

Photo: BYFUSION Media Kit

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