Why spend a fortune on fancy plant boxes when you can grow your vegetables safely in free building plastic waste? In the project From Building Waste to Building Gardens, we kill two birds with one stone. We extend the life of the old construction products before they are sent to recycling. Construction products are given a new function as plant boxes. In doing so, we are saving the climate of unnecessary strain and we support the development of urban agriculture, which means cheaper, fresher and more sustainable vegetables.
To complete the green transformation in the use of plastic, it is important that each individual sector seeks creative solutions in how to prevent their products from becoming waste after they have served their purpose. PVC Information Council Denmark has examined the possibilities in exploiting the resources inherent in PVC building waste, by using the waste as the basic element in city gardens. Beneficially, this means that new products do not need to be manufactured to create such gardens, which in turn limits CO2 emissions. In addition, green city gardens contribute to local food production and new communities. In this booklet, we tell you about how, in collaboration with the Langenæsfestivalen (Langenæs Festival of Culture) in Aarhus, we made our project a reality. The 2019 festival’s theme was sustainability. Using a series of photographs and quotes from the many different people who were involved in the festival, we show how PVC building waste was used to create 25 pop-up city gardens.
In connection with the project, we previously published a booklet “Urban agriculture with reused PVC”. The booklet described in more detail why city gardens and urban agriculture are generally so important to the green transformation, and why using reusable materials is a sustainable solution.
PVC is the most widely used plastic material in building and construction. Pipes, gutters, roofing sheets, cable trays, windows and doors are made of so-called rigid PVC, which is the material we here propose to be used in urban agriculture.
PVC is made for water
PVC building products are particularly suitable for growing in because the construction products are designed to come into contact with water. Comparing the rigid PVC with wood, for example, is has a considerably longer life. PVC does not rot and can last for over a hundred years. For this, the material is easy available , which means that if you want to build a city garden using PVC building waste, then the material is very easy to transport from the recycling site. It can easily be done for example on a loading bike.
PVC building materials in rigid PVC are distinguished by being collected and sorted for recycling. In Denmark for example, we have a statuary order that requires that this happens. This means that building waste in PVC is found at almost all recycling sites. The material is thus easily accessible to everyone. The idea is that the building materials are reused before they are recycled.
Free construction waste for urban agriculture
In the project, we extend the life of the materials by giving the construction products a different function in the form of plant boxes for urban agriculture. The main advantage of using PVC building waste to build an urban garden is that the waste is easily accessible and accessible to everyone for free. High costs for plant boxes are not necessary.
If you no longer want to grow your urban garden, the used waste must be handed over to the local recycling center, from which it will be sent for recycling. So after being used for urban gardens, the construction waste can once again get new life in the form of new pipes, new gutters, etc.
The environmental and climate benefits of growing in PVC building waste can be found elsewhere on this site. Likewise, you can find information on health topics related to using PVC in urban gardens; here you will see that it is without risk to grow in PVC building waste.
From Building Waste to Building Gardens is a project supported by VinylPlus®, the European PVC industry’s voluntary commitment to sustainable development. In the project we develop and test urban agriculture systems with reused PVC building waste. Project manager is architect Maja Sønderskov and assistant is Marianne Mikkelsen. The PVC Information Council DK is also affiliated with the project with director Ole Grøndahl Hansen and communication consultant Tobias Johnsen. However it is the volunteers who cultivate and water the plants on the various hubs around the City of Aarhus that make it all run. Our partners include Samskab Aarhus, Gallo Gartneriet, GroSelv and Skraldecafeen.