Plastics Recycling Update

ByFusion plans large-scale Arizona operation

ByBlock from ByFusion

The city of Tuscon plans to use ByFusion’s blocks to expand a women’s shelter, among other projects. | Courtesy of ByFusion

A company that turns hard-to-recycle plastics into construction-grade building blocks signed a four-year contract with the city of Tucson to expand drop-off collection and further develop local manufacturing.

The Tucson, Ariz. city council approved the $1 million contract May 9 after running a drop-off collection pilot program in August 2022.

The city will also build for the company a $2.4 million production facility at its Los Reales Sustainability Campus. That will be ByFusion’s second location, but the city will retain ownership of the building.

“The agreement advances the City’s goals to move past the traditional landfill model and into an era of regenerative waste-to-asset activities,” council documents stated. “These are activities that will attract business, create jobs and redefine the community’s relationship to the resources that people dispose of.” 

Los Angeles-based ByFusion turns plastics into 22-pound “ByBlocks,” which fit together using an interlocking peg system. The company uses low-grade, contaminated scrap plastics without washing or pre-processing. The plastics are shredded and then compressed using steam and heat. 

According to reporting from the Arizona Daily Star, the pilot program collected more than 88 tons of plastics or 6,000 blocks and Tucson has so far used about 1,200 blocks to build six benches and a trash enclosure. 

“The pilot program conducted by the City showed that the public would enthusiastically welcome the waste-diversion opportunity that ByFusion could provide to the community,” city council documents noted.

Under the contract, ByFusion will give 10% of the blocks it makes at the Tucson facility to the city, which plans to use the blocks to expand a women’s shelter, create mural walls and build a tack room for a local therapy horse company. 

ByFusion is required to operate the production facility 40 hours per week under the contract. The city will provide bins for non-recyclable plastic material at its four neighborhood recycling centers, as well as three additional locations, and transport the collected materials to ByFusion. 

The building timeline is uncertain, but there are also plans in the works to open a plastic collection center in town closer to the facility’s open date. 

ByFusion has also partnered with Dow on projects in the Greater Boise area. 

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