Can We Use Plastic as a Building Material?

disposable plastic bags

The world is literally drowning in plastic. Sea creatures get entangled with plastic, so much so that they are dying. Households are using and throwing away plastics now more than ever. You’re using disposable coffee cups because it is easier to throw them away than carry reusable ones. Plastics are taking over our lives, and the environment can’t keep up with it. It’s about time to think of ways to upcycle them into a construction material.

Many plastic injection molding companies are experimenting with the idea of using plastic primarily as a building material. And why not? Scientists say that it takes 300 years for single-use plastics to decompose. All those bottled water people consume every day should count for something, right?

It Is Already Being Done in Colombia

In Colombia, a company is making houses out of recycled plastic that has been turned into bricks and pillars. When put together, the materials look like Lego pieces, allowing the contractors to build a two-story house in five days. Yes, there are electrical wires, plumbing, and air conditioning, too. Since Colombia suffers from seismic activity all year round, the contractors made the bricks thermoacoustic and earthquake-resistance. They are up to the Colombian standard of building materials.

Plastic as a Construction Material Is Energy-saving

There is no solid evidence yet, but initial studies suggest that using recycled plastic as a building material is more energy-saving. This is in comparison to the energy lost when producing steel, gravel, and sand. There was also a study done about using plastic as a primary construction material. The results showed that it would meet the energy needs of about 4.6 million households in the United States.

That’s not the only benefit of using plastic materials for construction. If the construction industry starts upcycling plastic, it will save space in landfills. It will reduce the cost of having to store and dispose of plastic materials. Remember that not all waste dumped in landfills is treated. Plastic composes a large part of the waste that’s being thrown in landfills. They fill these sites up with the government having no way of decomposing plastic materials.

What Are the Current Construction Materials Made from Plastic?

building construction

Recy blocks are made from colorful plastic bags that are placed in a heat mold and forced to form blocks. They are super lightweight so that they can’t be used for a building’s foundation. They are used instead as dividers and for outdoor areas such as a gazebo and a patio.

Do you know that you may be driving on plastic roads and don’t know it yet? Plastic is bonded with asphalt to form what is now termed as “plasphalt.” It is made of plastic grains mixed with asphalt. Tests show that when bonded with plastic, an asphalt road is more durable than the one mixed with gravel and sand.

The discussion on using plastic is still at its initial stages. Should the industry produce plastic solely for this use? More studies need to be made about the use of plastic in building materials. But for now, if the construction industry can upcycle plastic materials, it will improve the chances of lessening environmental degradation.




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