Clarisse Merlet, a young French architect student, has pioneered a groundbreaking solution to address the staggering amount of textile waste generated each year. Inspired by the depletion of natural resources and the immense waste associated with the construction industry, Merlet conceptualized FabBRICK a renowned company that produces decorative and insulating bricks using old clothes.
Observing the four million tons of textile waste discarded annually in France alone (just a fraction of the global figure, which stood at 17 million tons in the United States three years ago), Merlet recognized the need for a more sustainable approach to construction that would reduce the demand for virgin materials and utilize existing resources.
FabBRICK's key ingredient is shredded clothing, which Merlet procures from a supplier in Normandy. Each brick incorporates the equivalent of two or three t-shirts, allowing for the use of various materials such as cotton, polyester, elastane, PVC, and more.
The fabric remnants are mixed with an eco-friendly adhesive developed by Merlet herself, and then pressed into brick molds. The mechanical compression used in the molding process requires minimal energy, only as much as a human worker would expend while operating the equipment.
After being removed from the mold, the bricks are left to dry for two weeks before they are ready for use. While the current bricks are not suitable for structural purposes, Merlet is actively working to develop them for such applications in the future. However, they are already fire and moisture-resistant, serving as excellent thermal and acoustic insulators. They find practical use in room dividers and wall decorations, particularly in stores specializing in clothing.
FabBRICK offers bricks in four different sizes and can even personalize the wall color using recycled clothing. The company has already designed over 40,000 bricks, representing 12 tons of recycled textiles since its inception in late 2018.
Merlet has also experimented with using crushed surgical masks to create bricks an intriguing potential application for pandemic-related waste that is becoming increasingly prevalent worldwide.
While FabBRICK is still undergoing laboratory testing, particularly in terms of fire resistance, the company's vision of transforming textile waste into sustainable construction materials is both promising and inspiring. Merlet acknowledges that the company is still in its early stages, but the passion and potential behind the idea are undeniably captivating.
This innovative approach to recycling textiles aligns with the vision of a global society committed to sustainability and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). FabBRICK's contributions can be linked to SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) by promoting sustainable building practices, reducing waste, and utilizing existing resources. Additionally, the company's engagement with civil society reflects the importance of collaboration and collective action in achieving sustainable development.
As FabBRICK continues to advance in its mission to revolutionize the construction industry, Merlet's ingenious solution holds the potential to significantly contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious global society.
More information: https://www.fab-brick.com
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