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Researchers have made concrete using plastic waste

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Researchers from James Cook University
in Australia have created concrete that’s reinforced by plastic waste,
rather than steel. The technique, which is a first in Australia, will
greatly reduce the environmental impact of concrete, and we can’t help
but wonder why we’re not doing this already.

“Using recycled
plastic, we were able to get more than a 90 percent saving on CO2
emissions and fossil fuel usage compared to using the traditional steel
mesh reinforcing,” said Rabin Tuladhar, the lead researcher from JCU in a press release. “The recycled plastic also has obvious environmental advantages over using virgin plastic fibres.”
The concrete was reinforced using recycled polypropylene plastic
instead, and strength and durability tests show that the end result
could safely be used to build footpaths and precast elements such as
drainage pits and concrete sleepers.
Tuladhar is now working with
local concrete producers to find out how to apply the findings more
broadly. He’s also working on making concrete more sustainable in other
ways, such as replacing natural sand with 100 percent crusher dust,
which is a byproduct of stone quarries, and replacing cement with up to
30 percent mining waste.

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Concrete is the second most-used material on Earth, second only to water, and production of cement, one of its key ingredients, is responsible
for 5 percent of the world’s annual CO2 production. Which may not sound
that much in the grand scheme of things, but if we can reduce those
emissions while also doing something useful with our hundreds of thousands of tonnes of plastic waste each year, then that’s pretty damn exciting. We can’t wait to see the new material in action.
Source: JCU

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