Researchers look to create eco-concrete using plastic waste

Scientists from the UK and India are collaborating on a two-year project to create environmentally-friendly concrete that uses plastic waste as a partial replacement for sand.

The research has been generated by the challenges posed by India’s booming economy. Demand for concrete has led to a rapid rise in unregulated sand extraction from riverbeds, to the extent that such mining is now banned in most Indian states. Sand is essential to the mangroves that create the breeding grounds for wildlife and biodiversity and helps protect surrounding agricultural fields from salt water ingress during tidal rises. Another consequence of India’s rapid development is the unprecedented level of plastic waste arriving in landfill, much of which comes from carrier bags and packaging.

To solve the problems of a shortage of sand for construction and abundant plastic waste, the project team will design and produce a concrete mix with more than 10% of sand being replaced with shredded plastic waste. The research will also investigate how using plastic in place of sand in concrete affects its strength, durability, fire and thermal properties.

The research is being carried out by the University of Bath and the Government Polytechnic, Mayern, Goa, and is funded by the British Council under the UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) program.

Dr John Orr from the University of Bath’s Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering said: “This research has the potential to recycle waste in a useful, commercially-viable way”.

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