How we work with waste streams
As you can read on our ‘How it’s made‘ page, we’re constantly investing time and effort into developing new recipes for our WasteBasedBricks®. These recipes eventually result in a building product that is both safe to use and of the highest quality.
But that’s just part of the story, as we’re especially interested in creating unique and beautiful materials that allow the architect to realise their design.
In our recipes, we use demolition waste, industrial waste and by-products from several production and recycling processes from (mainly) The Netherlands, and sometimes from Belgium, Germany and England.
All our waste streams are tested on quality and consistency and comply with government regulations. To get a consistent end product, we only work with larger, very specific and well-separated quantities of waste.
We’re running out of waste, sort of.
Creating sustainable building materials with ingredients that shrink the global waste pile is something that’s rooted deeply in our mission – but aesthetics is something we’ve always found just as important.
In the ‘sliced’ finish of our bricks and brick slips, the little specks of white ceramics and red ceramics support our story of building from waste, as well as making for a key design feature.
Recently, however, we learned that the specific waste stream of white ceramics is running out, meaning that in the very near future, we won’t be able to include it in our recipes and the white specks will disappear from our products.
At first, we were a bit sad to learn we will no longer be able to have those unique white specks in our sliced bricks. And we even considered importing this waste stream further from home or trying to replicate it with white clay or pigments.
But this would only lead to more transportation (so more CO2 in the air) or a lower percentage of waste in our final products. And we don’t think any speck is worth taking a step backwards. Don’t you agree?
Sometimes, an item becomes even more beautiful if it reveals how it changes and evolves over time.
Sustainability VS Aesthetics
The ultimate goal of sustainability is to create systems and designs that can meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
At the same time, long-term value is impossible without sensory appeal. Experiments have revealed that a more attractive design discourages us from abandoning an item: if we want it, we won’t waste it. And when our designs end up in a landfill, what is the point?
For a long time, many people have considered great design and green design to be separate pursuits. Sustainable design has often even been described as ugly! But as you can tell from our range of completed projects, well-designed green architecture no longer is an oxymoron.
We strongly believe that the likeability and longevity of an eco-friendly building depend on its ability to attract the eye. So aesthetic attraction is not a superficial concern – it’s actually an environmental imperative!
Yet sometimes, an item becomes even more beautiful if it reveals how it changes and evolves over time. And that is why we’re letting the white specks go. We are proud of all the beautiful materials we have been able to create with them over the years and we are looking forward to creating new eye-catching materials from other waste streams.
Building for Disassembly
Ceramic waste is only a small part of the entire global waste pile, which is still growing each year. Eventually, our vision is a world in which there is no construction or demolition waste left at all.
Building for detachability or disassembly, for example through our Beyond Wall System, is an important precondition for making construction fully circular because it makes it possible to reuse products and materials from a building and pass them on to subsequent cycles.
Read more about detachability in construction here.
The Factory of the Future
There is always a tension between sustainability and aesthetics, but we believe that they CAN be balanced for a better future. Both are important concepts that can work together to create better designs for a better future.
Using building materials made from waste in a building design can create a sense of history and character that is difficult to achieve with new materials. Due to changing waste streams, optimised recipes and modernized production methods, these types of building materials will have evolving colour nuances and textures over time.
To move towards a circular economy, where the lifecycles of products are extended to the maximum extent possible, we cannot simply look at product reuse and recycling as a static process.
We don’t produce standard products and the nature of the ingredients that we use in our recipes require a different approach to aesthetics.
Discover the possibilities of building with waste
Make sure to order a current sample* on our products page and get in touch to discuss the latest developments in our factory.
* Samples of products you’ve received before placing the order are type samples and give an indication of the colour and texture. The actual aesthetical properties of the WasteBasedBricks® will be confirmed with a production sample after placing the order.