James Cook University (JCU) engineers have successfully reinforced concrete using plastic waste instead of steel mesh reinforcing (which is what is commonly used). This development paves the path for large-scale sustainable construction practice in Australia.
As concrete is the second most used material on Earth and its production accounts for 5% of the world’s annual CO2 production, the use of plastic waste for reinforcement provides obvious commercial and environmental advantages. “Using recycled plastic, we were able to get more than a 90% saving on CO2 emissions and fossil fuel usage compared to using the traditional steel mesh reinforcing” said Dr Rabin Tuladhar, the lead researcher from JCU.
Though the plastic-reinforced concrete is not yet viable for construction use in the near future, it can be safely used to build footpaths and precast elements such as drainage pits and concrete sleepers. Dr Tuladhar is now in discussions with concrete producers and local governments to assess how to apply the findings on a larger scale. Thanks for keeping it clever, JCU.