3 innovations for a better construction future

by Ofentse Sefolo
3 innovations for a better construction future

Bricks made from recycled plastic, a safety suit that minimises injury and countertops made from recycled glass are just three of the innovations that were awarded as part of the SAB Foundation’s Social Innovation Awards in October 2019. These awards are aimed at innovators, entrepreneurs and institutions with prototypes or early-stage businesses that solve a social problem.

Second place overall, R900 000

Made from recycled plastic and a mixture of sand and additives, no water is used in the PlastiBrick manufacturing process.

With the aim to reduce plastic waste, Kekeletso Tsiloane successfully prototyped the PlastiBrick, an innovation that uses recycled plastic to manufacture stock and maxi bricks that are strong, durable, fire retardant and environmentally friendly.

In fact, PlastiBrick has a prototype which has been tested against the South African Bureau of Standards by an independent laboratory and found to be stronger and less absorbent than cement bricks. PlastiBrick has a compressive strength of 10MPa and a low water absorption rate of 1,1%.

Interestingly, no water is used in the production of the bricks. “The plastic, together with the sand and additives, ensure that the bricks bond. We have also worked out the specific ratios for each aggregate to ensure the final product meets the standards for conventional bricks and is safe for use,” Tsiloane explains.

PlastiBrick has recently been recognised by the Department of Human Settlements Freestate as alternative building technologies that aid in building proper houses that are durable.

Currently, due to manufacturing constraints, PlastiBrick is sold at low quantities to small-scale contractors for non-residential renovations, boundary walls, foundations and refurbishments. However, this prize will bring Tsiloane one step closer to purchasing an automatic machine that will increase capacity.

Spinetector Safety Costume
Development Award, R400 000

Sello Malinga has developed a safety suit for construction and mineworkers that would minimise the impact of upper body injuries.

Sello Malinga saw a gap in the protective gear market and developed a safety suit that would minimise the impact of upper body injuries specifically to the spine, shoulders, ribs and kidneys of construction and mine workers, when hit by heavy machinery or rocks.

“The Spinetector has padding in all the necessary areas of the body, helps to keep the body dry, is breathable and allows for natural movement,” says Malinga.

Malinga developed a prototype with the Technology Innovation Agency and is currently in the process of testing the product with the Mine Health and Safety Council.

“Winning the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards will enable me to produce 50 samples of my product for technical testing at a lab and practical testing at mining sites. I will then be able to certify my product with the South African Bureau of Standards,” he says.

Recycled Glass Turned Countertops
Seed Grant, R200 000

Jabulani Dlamini’s Recycled Glass Turned Countertops business recycles glass in order to manufacture countertops, floor and wall tiles, and sculptures.

Recognising that glass is not being recycled by waste pickers, as it is heavy and often dangerous, Jabulani Dlamini established Recycled Glass Turned Countertops, a business that specialises in collecting, weighing and paying for recycled glass to manufacture countertops, floor and wall tiles, and sculptures.

“First, the glass is crushed and sorted until only the finest particles are left. Resin is mixed with hardener on the side. We then put the fine glass particles in the mould, pour in the mixture of resin and hardener, and then stir until the two are finally combined into one. The mixture is put in the sun to dry, and within an hour the product is ready to be polished and fine-tuned,” Dlamini explains.

“Recycled Glass Turned Countertops are stronger and require less maintenance than granite countertops. They are easy to clean with water and soap, and can be made into any style or colour. They are also more sustainable,” says Dlamini.

A prototype has been developed and tested, but is yet to be tested and approved by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), something Dlamini expects to happen early next year.

For more information on the awards and innovations in other industries, please visit www.sabfoundation.co.za.


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