Scientists at Australia’s James Cook University developed an award-winning technology to reduce the environmental cost of concrete.
“We’ve produced recycled polypropylene fibers from industrial plastic wastes. With our improved melt spinning and hot drawing process we now have plastic fibers strong enough to replace steel mesh in concrete footpaths,” says Dr Tuladhar.
The use of recycled plastic in concrete makes the building product much more environmentally friendly. Concrete is second only to water as the material most commonly used by humankind, with 24 billion metric tons placed globally every year. Use of recycled plastic fibers in concrete eliminates the need for steel mesh and saves significant amounts of carbon dioxide associated with steel production, note the researchers. Comprehensive life cycle assessment shows the production of recycled plastic fiber produces 90 percent less carbon dioxide and eutrophication (contamination of water bodies with nutrients) compared to the equivalent steel.