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A neighbourhood school wants to start an Environ-friendly awareness and action project for the children. The idea is to collect plastic water bottles (preferably of the same size and shape) and stuff them with non-bio-degradable dry wastes such as polythene covers, chocolate wrappers, biscuit packet wrappers etc. There are a few online articles, (ex: here and here) about bottle bricks or eco bricks , which refer to the trash-stuffing practice, and there are numerous others which talk about filling sand (not the point of this question). There have been reports of using them for structural use (such as building) or other non-structural uses. It is hoped that the bottle bricks made at the school can be used somewhere like that or to be sent to environ care agencies that can use them.

  1. Are there any demerits to this idea ? One possible demerit, I had thought (before learning about the above links on bottle bricks) was: In case the bottle is not used in the brick form after stuffing, it may make the plastic bottle tough or impossible to recycle in traditional ways. I hear, usually, the plastic bottles are crushed, to make pellets and then recycled back into bottles. Stuffing the bottles may make crushing-pelleting route difficult ?

  2. Are there any special aspects that should be taken care of, before taking up this stuffing project ?

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    Where is the school located, and where will the "bricks" be sent? The shipping impacts may be larger than the offset impacts of removing the garbage from the waste stream. Additionally, trash, bottles, and labor are widely available commodities -- it doesn't make much sense to ship them from one place to another. – LShaver Jul 24 '17 at 18:30
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Stuffing plastic bottles with other plastic items makes them unsuitable for recycling. In recycling processing centres, plastic items are sorted by type prior to reprocessing into raw material. By filling the bottles with many different types of plastic (PET, HDPE, PVC, LDPE, PP, etc) it makes the sorting task much more difficult/impossible/uneconomic.

Stuffed plastic bottles, as a building material, would likely be a fire hazard and infringe local building regulations/codes, especially if used to build an enclosed space. Decorative walls or outside benches would probably be quite safe.

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