This project was initiated to clean up plastic pollution in the environment, while developing a self-sustaining business model to fund such efforts. Since the inception of plastic in the 1950s, only approximately 9% of plastic ever made has ever been recycled. The rest has ended up in the environment, landfills, or incinerated.
In 2019, as part of the Henderson Island Plastic Pollution Expedition, Howell Conservation Fund conducted a global search for what to do with the plastics collected from the beach, eventually connecting with the Center for Regenerative Design & Collaboration (CRDC). Their technology takes plastic and up-cycles it into an environmentally benign synthetic coarse sand aggregate called RESIN8, turning unsightly and ecologically damaging plastics accidentally released in nature to an economically valuable, circular economy solution. CRDC's innovative method allows all types of plastics to be recycled, regardless of material degradation from exposure to the elements such as sunlight and ocean water.
Throughout 2019, CRDC and HCF worked together on efforts to remove the plastic waste from Henderson Island and process it via this breakthrough approach, with the goal of building homes through Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica using RESIN8 blocks. We were ultimately unsuccessful in removing the waste from Henderson Island due to factors outside our control. A 2020 return expedition was planned to remove the waste, but the expedition was cancelled due to COVID-19. A March 2021 expedition is now tentatively planned to finally remove the tons of waste collected by the clean up team that Howell Conservation Fund led in 2019.
In 2020, CRDC and HCF formalized a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), creating a strategic alliance. We are developing a sub-brand of RESIN8 made out of plastics collected from unique ecological environments. These revolutionary RESIN8 blocks demonstrate performance that meets or exceeds natural aggregate blocks in the areas of strength, weight, and fire/thermal resistance. Sales of the blocks will help to capitalize Howell Conservation Fund and support future expeditions to remove plastic waste from waterways, similar to our 2019 effort on Henderson Island.
The pilot test of the RESIN8 block product is just starting. As of July 2020, approximately one ton of plastic collected out of rivers in the Southeast United States has been shipped to CRDC's plant in New Jersey, and is in the process of being turned into blocks. Stay tuned for how to support the program soon!