Sustainable Concrete Using Plastic Waste

Researchers develop sustainable concrete using plastic waste as partial replacement for sand.

Academics from the University of Bath are collaborating with Indian researchers in a two-year project to create environmentally-friendly concrete that uses plastic waste as a partial replacement for sand.

Demand for concrete from India's booming construction sector 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 which create the breeding grounds for wildlife and biodiversity and it also 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 both problems (a shortage of sand for construction and abundant plastic waste), the project team will design and produce an innovative concrete mix in which more than 10 per cent of the sand is replaced with shredded plastic waste.

The research will also investigate how using plastic in place of sand within concrete affects its strength, durability, fire and thermal properties.

Commenting, Dr John Orr from the University of the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering said: "This research has the potential to recycle waste in a useful, commercially viable way." He said.

Prepared by science and technology information center