BetR-Block: building homes with recycled paper

Paper is a valuable resource that is not optimally used. Large mounts of it are not recycled and end up on landfills. Yet it is a great building material. Earlier this week we talked about paper bricks for use inside the house. Now, a US-based company called BetR-Block has developed a brick made from paper that can be used in the construction of buildings.

BetR-Block is a start-up company that makes building blocks out of recycled paper and other sources of cellulose. To make the blocks, the material is run through water, of which 95 per cent is continually recycled. The blocks are then pressed into shape.

The blocks will last as long as conventional building material and are very strong. In addition, the blocks itself are recyclable as well, which means the material can be used indefinitely.

BetR-Block, which, according to the company, “really is a better block”, is already building with the material. The first house they built, made from old newspapers, is called Paper Palace 1, and tested the durability, cost, effectiveness, and safety of the blocks. They found that Bet-R Block isolates two times better than conventional building material, which means it will consume less energy to heat or cool. Therefore, there is no need for additional isolation such as fibre glass, which is often expensive and harmful to the environment.

The blocks are also cheap to make, saving you 12 to 15 per cent compared to other construction materials. They are also water-, fire-, termite-, and mould-resistant.

The company does not only fabricate blocks. On their sister-site, you can find out how to make your own papercrete. This does not, as the name implies, mixes paper with concrete, but it can be made with Portland cement, or, if you prefer, natural clay. There really does not seem to be a reason not to live in a house made from paper!