Don Thomson, the CEO of The Center of Regenerative Design and Collaboration (CRDC) is the inventor of a process that can turn any plastic – dirty or clean and in any form – into the very building blocks of sustainable development.

The product, EcoArena PRA (Pre-Conditioned Resin Aggregate) and Ecoblock are innovative environmentally friendly products which incorporate regenerated waste plastic particles combined with a standard sand-cement mixture to produce a highly resistant, durable cement or cement block while providing a viable up-cycling usage of this waste material.

SValle Azul housing project built with CDRC and Pedregal EcoArena and EcoBlocks in Costa Rica with Habitat for Humanity.

The product has been tested and applied by PEDREGAL in Costa Rica for the past two years with great success CRDC is also collaborating with international US chemicals giant, Dow in the development of EcoArena in a bid to develop a lead initiative for the alliance to end plastic waste.

In South Africa, CRDC is partnering with a leading operations company that has extensive expertise and a long track record in on-site waste management, plastic recycling, waste to energy and implementation of zero waste to landfill solutions.

CRDC will be testing EcoArena PRA with two major concrete manufacturers in the Western Cape as well as a major South African cement producer.  “In South Africa, there is an established and sophisticated cement industry.  Against this, we need to create jobs, we need to clean up the environment and there is an urgent need for housing.  Our plan is to use the Costa Rican model to initially launch in the Western Cape before rolling out the initiative nationally.”

The key benefits of CRDC EcoArena

Concrete and construction

  • 10% increase in strength
  • 8% to 16% decrease in weight (with 5% or 10% PRA)
  • Increase in thermal properties
  • Same fire resistance as with standard concrete
  • EcoArena PRA can be used in pressed concrete products as well as in bagged cement or poured concrete
  • Lower dependency on other raw materials
  • Obvious marketing benefits
  • Reduce cement industries carbon footprint and carbon tax bill (South Africa)

Environmental

  • Supports and grows the UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • Reduces Carbon Footprints by eliminating plastic to landfill and plastic pollution –
    (1 tonne of mixed plastics going to landfill has an emissions factor of 21.3842kg CO2e)
  • All types of plastic can be upcycled into EcoArena PRA – i.e. no costly separation required
  • Reduce plastic pollution in rivers, oceans, cities and impact on landfills
  • Supports Zero Waste to landfill and Plastic producer responsibility and government programmes or initiatives
  • Waste plastic permanently eliminated from the environment
  • CRDC and EcoArena are foundation partners of Habitat for Humanity

Social and SMME

  • SMME and job creation from waste plastic collection, plastic shredding SMMEs and transport
  • Cleaner cities and healthier environments
  • Support SMME Concrete block manufacturers
  • Help support the building of better social housing in Africa with a product that is stronger and benefits the environment and society.

Sales and Marketing Director of PEDREGAL, David Zamora says: “This breakthrough in transforming plastic and using it in the same way as you would conventional aggregate is a game-changer.  Not only can we conduct our business in a more sustainable way but also we can also help solve one of the biggest problems we have created as human beings – that of plastic contamination.  This is the very essence of our circular economy – one in which the construction industry is helping the plastic industry solve a waste problem by turning it into a raw material that can be used in any construction on the planet.”