Tucson expands plastic recycling sites for block project

Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 10:01 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) -Tucson has announced two new locations for people to drop off unrecyclable plastics, which will be used to make construction-grade plastic blocks.

The city is very close to signing a deal with ByFusion, a California company that has come up with a solution that has found a use for plastics that would normally end up in landfills.

“The city of Tucson is the first city on the planet that is scaling up a program to this scale,” said Ward 6 city council member Steve Kozachik, who is spearheading the effort. “The program is ridiculously popular.”

Kozachik has received nearly ten tons of plastic weekly in a 22-foot roll-off at his ward office and has received three tons in the past ten days.

Tucson has fully embraced the concept of finding a way to reuse the plastics which cannot be recycled and those totals will certainly increase substantially with two more sites.

Besides the Ward 6 office, new drop-off sites opened today at the Ward 4 East side office at 8123 East Poinciana Dr. and a second site for the West and South sides at 2002 S. Mission, which is the Fire station #15.

“Everybody that we see coming by the office to drop off is grateful to find a productive way to use this stuff instead of simply throwing it in the trash knowing it’s going to wind up in a landfill,” he said.

Converting the plastics to plastic blocks has been the brainchild of the California company, which takes all the plastic which can’t be recycled and makes construction-grade blocks that can replace cinder blocks, and comes with some advantages.

“Using these blocks is much more affordable way to build than using conventional cinder blocks because there’s no mortar involved, no concrete and you don’t have to wait for dry times,” Kozachikk said. “This is simply like stacking Legos.”

Kozachik says the trades have taken an interest in the process as well as several other cities, that are watching very closely.

“We’ve got Chicago, Lynchburg, Virginia, Phoenix, cities in Southern California all watching what we’re doing seeing how we’re scaling it up so they can follow our lead,” he said.

Tucson is working on a contract that will bring ByFusion to Tucson as soon as contract details are worked out, which is expected soon.

”They will bring the operation to Tucson and they will be manufacturing and marketing the blocks,” Kozachik said. So, it’s great from the environmental standpoint creation of local jobs and the environmental impact is clear.”

The idea was unanimously approved by the city council and is an investment that will not require tax dollars to be spent to get it up and running.