From plastic waste to insulation material


One of the highlights of the Circular Economy in Architecture and Design exhibition is the project, ‘Upcycled Insulation’. It is the work of Gabriele Gualdi, a student on the Architecture and Extreme Environments programme. The project is an experiment in ‘upgrading’ non-degradable plastic waste and using it as insulation material in the construction industry.

The project looks at the upcycling of plastic waste for insulation materials and focuses on Iceland, where rapidly expanding tourism is making a decided impact on the island’s beaches in the form of waste and debris.

The intention is to investigate whether the waste can become a resource that can be used in construction and thus enter into architecture’s technical circuit.

Using a specially sewn canvas with pockets, the project examines the insulation capability of the plastic waste at different levels of granulation. By means of measuring equipment and on the body, the material is tested in a number of extreme weather conditions on the coast of Iceland.

The study has shown that, by means of a simple processing, good insulation properties can be achieved. The project shows that ‘waste insulation’ could be a realistic alternative to traditional insulation in a place where all building materials are imported from the mainland.