A new report from Arup demonstrates the potential of using organic waste for the creation of construction engineering and architecture products.

The Urban Bio-Loop: Growing, Making and Regenerating report suggests that the “use of [these materials] in construction would possibly allow the exploitation of its untapped value with a positive impact not only from an environmental perspective but also from a technical, social and economic standpoint”.

This is of particular importance when we consider that the construction industry is one of the largest users of raw materials at a global scale. But a circular economy-based approach, says Arup, “would provide the rationale for a shift from a linear – disposal model – towards a circular value chain where natural waste is the main resource”.   

Arup outline six applications that currently exist for products based on natural resources.

Some of the applications identified include:

  • Interior partitions and finishes
  • Furniture
  • Acoustic absorption
  • Thermal insulation
  • Carpets and moquette
  • Envelope systems 

Furthermore, the report looks at a number of construction products where organic waste has been used as a resource, and are assessed on a range of factors.

Organic waste products featured in the report include:

  • Sugarcane
  • Cellulose
  • Maize
  • Sunflower
  • Peanuts
  • Seeds, stalks and leaves
  • Bananas
  • Potatoes
  • Hemp and flax
  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Pineapples  

Arup itself has been involved in projects where alternative materials have been used to realise building systems. One of these projects is the David Benjamin-designed Mushroom Tower, the first example of a structure – though temporary – made by using mushrooms as base materials.

The full The Urban Bio-Loop: Growing, Making and Regenerating report can be read here