By combining recycled plastic and waste from the tequila industry a Mexican company has created a new building material that’s very similar to wood. Chemical engineering has been used to create a material said to be less expensive and much stronger. It is suitable for use in the manufacture of furniture such as benches, tables and chairs and as a framework for concrete moulds.
How It Is Made
The company, Plastinova, based in Jalisco, Mexico has established a partnership with two local tequila manufacturers to make use of their plant waste. The new material combines 10 – 35% of agave fibre and recycled plastic to create the finished product.
In the tequila industry sap is extracted from the plant and what’s left behind is called bagasse. This first goes through a process to ensure all the alcohol and sugar has been removed leaving behind only agave fibres which are dried, ground and pulverised into a flour-like powder. A special substance is also added to the agave waste that alters its chemical composition, making it more resistant and easier to bond with different kinds of plastic. The powdered agave residue is finally combined with recycled plastic and formed into sheets for construction.
Stronger than Wood?
The new building material has shown itself as a worthy opponent for more traditional wood and aluminium. It is much lighter and far stronger than wood and much more eco-friendly than either. But most important, for a country where building materials are very expensive when compared with the average income, it has proved to be considerably less expensive than both aluminium and wood.
Plastinova‘s future plans include changing to coconut rather than agave waste as studies show it is likely to perform much better by creating a stronger material. And also because finding sufficient quantities of the agave waste is proving difficult because tequila companies use it in their boilers.
It’s often thought that poorer countries such as Mexico, are very irresponsible when it comes to being environmentally culpable because limited financial resources mean they can’t push earth friendly methods. Plastinova is now demonstrating that even the poorest countries can help find solutions that work for mankind and Mother Nature.