Dunedin man Peter Lewis shows off the bricks of recycled
plastic made at the Green Island landfill using the
Byfusion machine he invented. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
A plastic-recycling machine invented by Dunedin man Peter
Lewis is spitting out the building blocks of a
The "Byfusion" machine has been 10 years in the making, but a
working prototype at the Green Island landfill can swallow
most types of raw plastic and turn it into compacted plastic
bricks or other shapes.
The plastics - from drink bottles to meat packaging - went in
one end of the cylindrical machine, which washed, dried and
compacted the plastic, Mr Lewis said.
A brick emerged every 30-45 seconds, with each formed from
10kg of plastic.
The rock-hard bricks could be used for garden retaining or
landscaping walls, and had other potential uses including
shock absorbers behind crash barriers.
Consideration was being given to using the products to build
hurricane and tsunami shelters in the Pacific Islands, or
cheaper sustainable housing where wood was scarce, he said.
Dunedin-born Mr Lewis developed the machine while living in
Queenstown a decade ago, but mothballed the project after
failed attempts to market it in the United States in 2001 and
Christchurch in 2003.
The machine was "ahead of its time" then, but he hoped it was
now a viable solution to the piles of plastic flooding into
New Zealand landfills.
Mr Lewis and his company, Bale Fusion Ltd, dusted off the
project this year after being approached by Dunedin City
Council solid waste manager Ian Featherston.
Mr Featherston said he stumbled across Mr Lewis' project
while reading a waste management trade magazine.
He worked with the council's economic development unit and
Dunedin's Business for Change cluster to bring the project
The council offered a $20,000 grant to help cover setup costs
- paid for by a Ministry for the Environment waste
minimisation levy - and cluster members also offered
Once fully operational, the machine would help the council
meet waste minimisation targets and find alternative uses for
some types of plastics - numbers 3-7 - that lacked lucrative
There would be "synergies" with the new recycling plant being
built at the Green Island landfill.
It was hoped supporting the business would bring economic
benefits to the city.