The construction industry uses a lot of plastic materials; Of the approximately 51 million tonnes of plastic demand in Europe, manufacturing accounts for about 20%. The plastics market in the United States has seen increase in consumption From many industries – including construction, where increasing demand for renewables and high urban population influence the market.
There are plenty of understandable reasons why this industry uses so much plastic, from the rising cost of materials to the safety aspects of lighter materials, durability, cost effectiveness and more.
But plastic materials are not sustainable, as they are usually made from polymers that originate from non-renewable energy sources. generally, less than 10% of plastic is recycled (Globally), there is a huge amount of money to bring the global construction industry in line to create a more sustainable future.
So what are the implications of using plastics, and why does the industry need to care?
One of the main reasons plastics are used in construction, its flexibility is actually one of the reasons why it needs to be reduced. Plastic can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, which makes it a great material for long-lasting construction, but during those 1,000 years, the plastic degrades and contaminates the surroundings with the release of greenhouse gases. ; And even after a structure has disappeared over time, plastic is left behind.
The problem with plastic isn’t just its lifespan; When materials are being made, there is considerable energy consumption and carbon emissions, which means that even before materials are used, they are already negatively impacting the environment. Again, due to chemical additives (used to make plastics flexible, fire-resistant, adhesives, etc.), disposing or recycling the materials can become challenging later and cause further damage or contamination.
Between limited resources and the environmental impact of manufacturing, preparing and using plastics in construction, the construction industry needs to stop and rethink how they are using the material – and look for new and better ways to make parts . Needed, in a way that is not going to cause harm, both in the short and long term.
What can be done now?
Obviously, this situation is something that requires consideration and consultation with the industry as a whole, with a focus on the development of new materials, or a re-evaluation of existing manufacturing methods and recycled materials.
Global change is bound to happen – but these things take time.
There are indeed areas where the construction industry can reduce the impact it has on the environment, without massive changes in time, money, and legislative effort.
it was found it The most common sources of plastic waste come from:
- Plastic packaging (accounting for about 25%)
- unused material
- Improperly Stored/Managed Content
- More Specified Project Design
- wastage of workforce
By considering more effective project management systems, implementing the use of less plastic packing, and reducing the availability of single-use plastics, the industry as a whole can reduce the amount of plastic being requested, and lower costs. (low cost). wastage) because they reduce their usage.
eco friendly option
Potential alternatives to harmful plastics are being developed and researched, with specialist innovation looking at new technologies and processes, as well as revisiting already existing (sometimes even historical) ones.
One innovation that is using recycled materials and old techniques is a cyclopene concrete Structure in So Paulo, which looks to ancient Greek construction for inspiration. What differentiates it from conventional concrete is essentially the shape of a coarse aggregate, which is traditionally made of stone, but may also include brick or concrete remains. The debris from the previous demolition becomes the primary raw material for the new walls. Constructively, the technology resembles traditional reinforced concrete: a wooden mold is used to obtain liquid concrete, maintaining the appearance of the different materials used in the previous structure.
Another project is a 12-house development in the West Midlands of the UK Aims to eliminate plastic completely By building homes and properties, alternative materials are being procured for fixtures and fittings. Supported by an Interreg project – CHARM (Circular Housing Asset Renovation and Management) with a cross-European partnership and €1m EU funding, some of the content that has been received by this project and other sustainable focused companies as ethical considerations:
- Mineral-insulated copper cable – used in electrical power circuits.
- Natural paint solutions – such as graphene and lime paint.
- Copper pipework with welded joints – to replace plastic pipe and plumbing.
- Recycled plastics – although this material still has problems, plastic already exists, so reusing it safely and responsibly can reduce the environmental impact that would otherwise accompany the disposal of single-use plastics Comes.
- Hemp – A mixture of hemp and lime water, this substance has traditionally been a replacement for concrete, but can also be used for insulation in domestic and non-domestic structures.
- Natural Fibers – In terms of insulation, natural alternatives such as jute, wood fiber, sheep wool, or cellulose can be viable alternatives.
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And Norway is moving towards a more environmentally friendly construction industry, largely replacing steel with wood as a building material. Moelven has built the world’s tallest wooden building, the Mjøstårnet, in Brumundal, eastern Norway. A prefabricated, 18-story building, the wooden skeleton was erected at a pace of one storey per week using the company’s Glue Laminated Timber (Glulam). Glulam can compete with steel when it comes to strength, flexibility and durability.
Norway’s forestry industry is itself one of the most sustainable in the world – the rules are so strict in fact that virtually no trees can be cut down without a commitment to plant a new one. Norwegian wooden buildings are therefore among the most environmentally friendly buildings in existence.
The new North Pier Gardermoen at Oslo Airport is another example of the innovative use of materials. The roof is made of wood, and much of the rest of the building consists of recycled materials, climate-friendly insulation and concrete in which a portion of the cement was replaced with reused waste.
So there are examples to be found and ideas to be adopted that can lead to a greener and plastic-dependent construction industry. The question is whether the construction industry can adopt the new benchmarks for itself or will government intervention be needed to lead the way.