Recycled living

A new structural material made from recycled plastics and minerals can be used to build low-carbon homes.

Thermo Poly Rock (TPR) material has been developed by Swansea-based Affresol, which now plans to launch a range of eco-friendly homes and modular portable buildings based on it.

Each house consists of approximately 18 tonnes of recycled plastic waste that was destined for landfill, while each modular building is made up of four tonnes of recycled waste.

This week, UK heating and hot water systems maker Worcester Bosch ordered the first modular building from Affresol for its plant in Warndon, Worcestershire.

The TPR panels are bolted together to form the load bearing frame of the house, which can be externally clad using a material of choice (brick, block or stone), and the interior insulated and plastered as standard. The roof is tiled from recycled materials.

Outlining the benefits, Affresol’s managing director, Ian McPherson, said that TPR is stronger and lighter than concrete, waterproof, fire retardant, does not rot and has excellent insulation properties.

A sustainable code 4/5 home built using TPR can be up to 12 per cent cheaper than standard build, and the TPR superstructure can be erected on site within four days. The houses have an estimated life cycle of more than 60 years and the TPR elements are 100 per cent recyclable at the end of life.

Affresol’s first detached show home – complete with garage – is now available to view inside its factory on Swansea West industrial park.

The company spent the last two years working with Cardiff and Glamorgan universities, BRE – the Building Research Establishment and the Carbon Trust developing the product, and is now is awaiting BRE accreditation before building 19 homes in Merthyr as its first pilot project.

The company works with waste management companies to source waste plastic and currently uses manufacturing waste from Sekisui in Ebbw Vale, boiler maker Worcester Bosch, and Bridgend-based Dunraven, which makes upvc windows and doors.

Affresol is currently working with Dr Ken Lum from Cardiff University on the possibility of a technology transfer/inward investment proposition to set up the Affresol process in South Africa to produce high volumes of low-cost homes using local waste. An added benefit in this market is that the building product will not rot and it is not susceptible to insect infestation.