This man makes bricks out of chewed-up gum and discarded masks

Have you ever reached in your pocket to find you had forgotten a rock-hard piece of chewed-up gum wrapped in a scrap of paper? This happened to Binish Desai when he was a boy, and that mundane event inspired his childhood dream to build the world’s least expensive houses for the people he saw living in slums using bricks made of gum and paper waste.

Now, on the cusp of his thirties, it is obvious that Desai’s eco-conscious values endured. He is responsible for several inventions, including the P-Block—bricks that are indeed made of gum and paper waste, and founded a number of women’s empowerment centers with his wife.

Desai is now on a new recycling mission, inspired by the pandemic and the overwhelming amount of discarded face masks that litter the earth. Since April 2020, Desai has been studying and converting discarded face masks into bricks with the aim of producing them commercially. Now, his company, Eco-Eclectic Technologies, is getting ready to put out its final product.

According to Desai, this new brick, called Brick 2.0, “is stronger and more durable, making it three times stronger than conventional bricks at twice the size and half the price. And it is fire retardant, recyclable, and absorbs less than 10 percent water.”

To collect masks, he created “eco bins” which are set up across Valsad and Surat with the permission of the local government and municipal corporations. Next, he will see if malls, salons, and private hospitals will agree to accept eco bins too.

To ensure everyone’s safety, his company follows proper sanitation protocols, shreds the materials, and then combines it with industrial paper waste from paper mills, finally mixing it all with the binding component. The new bricks will cost 2.8 Indian Rupees per piece, which is about three cents.

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