Turning landfills into houses

There are so many possible paths in the future. One has been on the back of my mind for about 6 years now. I have only discussed it with maybe 4-5 people. Okay, maybe more, but very few. But it has always been at the back of my mind and has indirectly affected many of the decisions that I make.

Here it is: turning landfills into houses.

Allow me to explain.

About six years ago my Dad was working with a man to get a project funded. This man is an environmental chemist and had created a way to break material (trash) down to its basic elements and then reconstruct it as a very basic/crude building material (think artificial wood). Basically recycling but for anything.

He had prototyped it and was ready to roll it out, but to do a full-scale operation he needed $20 million. And he didn’t want to start small because then someone else would just steal it and scale it quickly. He had multiple offers from investors, but didn’t want to give up equity so it never got funded.

Although I don’t have a deep understanding about chemistry, it seems so simple. Break things down to their basic elements (after all, everything is created from the same stuff,) separate out what you don’t want, and then restructure the elements to make what you want. Obviously not simple, but there seems to be so much potential. Especially when the large cities of the world are trying to figure out what to do with all the waste and have millions and millions of dollars for anyone who can figure it out. Landfills are filling up. Burning trash causes problems (see this article about China). Obviously putting it in the ocean is no good, although I think this happens. Transporting it is expensive.

This would not only help ease the landfill problem, but the “building material” created could also solve problems, if the model was set up in the proper way.

A recent development in my thinking about this revolves around the business model I would use to create and grow this. You could set up the ultimate “socially responsible corporation”. Basically – no one gets rich. Profit is plowed back into the community. As many well-paying, family focused (good working hours) jobs are created as possible. Etc.

Even if this specific business model doesn’t work out, I can definitely see myself growing some sort of global corporation that adheres to the CSR principles in that last paragraph.