The RIC Good Wood Guide

Building with Cardboard

- reprinted from Permaculture International Journal, #54 1

A US company has turned waste paper and cardboard into panels which could replace plywood from endangered rainforests, or plasterboard (gyprock) in construction. The product, Gridcore can be made from a variety of recycled materials, including office waste-paper, corrugated cardboard, glossy magazines or even plastics; in fact anything with cellulose fibre, including rice straw, wheat chaff, kenaf or sugarcane waste, will work.

The technology, developed by the US Dept. of Agriculture, involves creating a slurry of fibres, which is then dehydrated and pressed into fibre mats, smooth on one side with a honeycomb grid on the other. Gluing two mats grid-to-grid creates a panel which is strong yet light.

The US company, Gridcore Systems International has already manufactured panels for stage sets and trade-show displays while it continues to test panels with sufficient fire-retardation and moisture-resistance to meet building regulations. So far, it has made panels from mixed wastepaper, newspapers, undeliverable mail, paper from Burger King restaurants, last year's Yellow Pages phone books and the grassy plant, kenaf.

Gridcore can be made paper-thin for packaging and as thick as 75mm for walls, roofing and floors. Its core can be filled with insulation and it can be covered with cloth or wood veneer. It can be sawed, nailed or painted and is non-toxic. "Gridcore products provide a viable market for post-consumer paper and wood, which currently constitutes over 60% of all municipal solid waste in the US" said spokesperson, Barbara Spivak. 'Because it can be made from locally generated fibre, the global implications of this simple, elegant technology are remarkable."

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(More info: see Alternative Directory - Non Timber Building Materials - Miscellaneous).

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