No bricks have been made in Quebec since 2016. How do you maintain or renovate heritage buildings — or more simply an old triplex — when the original materials no longer exist? The Web-Recyc platform thinks it has found the solution in recycled bricks.
Web-Recyc presents itself as the “Tinder” of recycled bricks. Contractors or building owners who tear down entire exterior walls have, since the beginning of the summer, the option of displaying the brick they inherit there before sending it to a landfill.
You often have to wait a few weeks, the time to get a permit, to be able to get rid of construction residues, then you have to pay according to the quantity of waste sent to the dump. By dumping your old brick on Web-Recyc, it is possible to reduce these costs and then receive a charitable donation receipt for the value of the materials donated to a third party via the platform.
At the other end of the chain, another building will probably be renovated using the brick thus recovered and reused. The process seems to work for everyone. Tommy Bouillon compares his platform to a blood or organ donation bank.
“Storing bricks is not profitable. We needed a way to reduce the time it takes to find old brick. We launched the site on June 19 and it really took off from there. We knew that the demand was strong, we had to ensure the supply,” he said in an interview with The duty.
2 million bricks
While no bricks have been manufactured in Quebec for seven years, Web-Recyc could facilitate the recovery and reuse, in the greater Montreal area alone, of some 2 million bricks per year starting next year. , calculates Tommy Bouillon.
To achieve this, it was necessary to go further than creating a website. First, thanks to the Industrial Research Assistance Program of the National Research Council of Canada, Recyc-Québec and the City of Montreal, among others, Tommy Bouillon created in 2021, under the aegis of the company Masonry Gratton which he also directs, a machine called Brique Recyc capable of “automatically cleaning” old brick. Its rate: one brick every seven seconds.
Brique Recyc then became a company in its own right. In addition to the Web-Recyc platform, it has created new kind of boxes that allow construction workers who have to dismantle walls to keep the brick in good condition, rather than tossing it in a chute that leads it into a container. located on the ground, where it usually ends up shattering.
“The demolishers can use them to place the brick inside, at eye level, without damaging anything,” explains Mr. Bouillon. After that, the delivery of old bricks is ensured by a partner who already distributes new bricks and who then brings back the recovered brick in his trucks which would otherwise be empty. With this model, we reuse the brick and it changes almost nothing in the ways of doing things and the habits of construction people. »
A threatened heritage
Brick is no longer the all-purpose material it once was. Large modern buildings prefer steel, glass and other up-to-date materials. The brick still used in construction everywhere in Quebec must be imported from Ontario or the United States.
It is expensive and, for each new building, it causes Quebec’s built heritage to disappear a little more.
“If you have to renovate existing buildings, [comme] the third floor of a triplex requires brick. Most of the time, people throw everything away and then buy new bricks,” says Tommy Bouillon. The costs have gone up, it removes the cachet of the original building and it transforms the face of neighborhoods which, in cities like Montreal, have made their reputation on the unique appearance of their colorful brick facades.
“We say that we have no bricks on one side and, on the other, we throw it by the ton in the trash, continues Tommy Bouillon. It is nonsense to say that we cannot protect our heritage when we can. »
For Brique Recyc, in any case, this is an opportunity to be seized. The company is already planning its expansion in Quebec in the coming months. She found partners to tackle the markets of Ontario and the United States. Like Montreal, cities like New York and Boston were built at a time when brick ruled urban architecture.
We say that we have no bricks on one side and, on the other, we throw it by the ton in the trash
With its Web-Recyc platform, it hopes to increase the supply of bricks. The demand is enormous. The problem is the same everywhere on the planet, notes the Quebec company. Even if the causes are not the same everywhere. “We even received a request for our brick cleaning system from Ukraine…”