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    New report explores using organic waste for building materials

    Nicholas Rider

    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

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