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City of Boise unveils new Manitou Park bench created from recycled plastics

The new bench at Manitou Park is designed by ByFusion. Inside the bench are recycled plastics from residents' orange bags, turned into plastic blocks.

BOISE, Idaho — Wednesday at noon, City of Boise leaders unveiled a new bench at Manitou Park created by blocks from residents' recycled plastics. 

The city partnered with Los Angeles recycling company, ByFusion, in an attempt to create a zero-emissions recycling process. ByFusion works with the Hefty Energy Bag Program by collecting all of the plastics inside residents' orange bags and turning them into plastic blocks.

The new bench at Manitou Park is designed by ByFusion. Inside the bench are contents from residents' orange bags. According to the company, the bench diverts 1,100 pounds of waste from the landfill.

The Hefty Energy Bag Program started in Boise in 2018 in response to China's green sword policy in which they stopped taking many of the country’s recyclable materials. The project is part of the City of Boise's pilot program to test out new markets for the city's plastics. 

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean, members of the Boise City Council, leaders from the Public Works and Parks and Recreation Departments and representatives from Dow, Reynolds and ByFusion unveiled the unique bench at Manitou Park Wednesday. 

Currently, Boise sends all contents inside the orange bags to a company in Salt Lake City, which uses their contents to create cement to replace coal as an energy source. The process does have an environmental impact.

According to KTVB's conversation in January with Heidi Kujawa, the founder and CEO of ByFusion, the process of turning the waste into blocks creates zero emissions.

"It's only steam and compression, we don't sort, we don't clean, we literally just take the plastic waste, throw it in the machine, make a block and stick it in a wall,” Kujawa said. "We really view ourselves as a waste infrastructure company that's able to keep up with the infrastructure demands of the city that includes anything from parks and rec to the department of transportation and other major supporting services for the community."

During the pilot program, the orange bags are sent to ByFusion's headquarters in Los Angeles. Kujawa said the blocks can create perimeter walls, privacy fencing, sound walls, bus stations, dumpster enclosures, storage facilities, and residential projects.

“All of all of our waste in the Treasure Valley, whether it’s from Boise or Garden City or Eagle, it's all is going to the same landfill in Ada County," Peter Mccullough with the City of Boise Public Works Environmental Department told KTVB. "We have one landfill. It's not going to last forever. There are varying estimates about how many years it has left, but were looking in the range of 60 to 75 years left, perhaps even less."

This is why the city is quick to look into a more efficient way to recycle. If the pilot program is successful and piques interest from local architects and developers, ByFusion hopes to bring their block-making machine to Boise, to be able to recycle locally.

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