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Study Finds Plastic Waste Can Be Used Instead Of Sand In Concrete

By: Lifestyle Desk

Local News Desk

Last Updated: July 20, 2021, 12:09 IST

The plastic waste can be sorted, cleaned, shredded and crashed into a sand alternative.

The plastic waste can be sorted, cleaned, shredded and crashed into a sand alternative.

A lecturer at Cambridge University, one possible way to solve this shortage of building material is by crushing plastic waste into the sand in concrete mixing.

Several places in the world are reeling under a shortage of sand. At first, this statement seems strange since vast expanses of beaches and deserts across the earth are covered with sand. But it’s true that people have started to run out of raw material because it is largely used in construction and manufacturing. The sand found in deserts cannot be used for making concrete as it is too fine-grained and the one on beaches is salty.

Therefore, suitable sand is usually dredged from rivers. Up to 25% of such sand is mixed in the concrete. In the construction industry alone, which is on a continuous rise, around 40 billion-50 billion tonnes of sand is used every year on a global basis. But since it harms the environment hugely, a number of countries, including India, Cambodia and Vietnam, have banned it in recent years.

Now, a small group of researchers have claimed to find the answer to this sand crisis. According to Dr John Orr, a lecturer at Cambridge University, one possible way to solve this shortage of building material is by crushing plastic waste into the sand in concrete mixing. The plastic waste can be sorted, cleaned, shredded and crashed into a sand alternative.

Orr told BBC that his team found that up to 10% of sand in concrete mix can be replaced with plastic waste. It will have the same amount of “strength” and “longevity”.

This method is not only more cost-effective but also environment-friendly. If this alternative is used to make concrete in India, it could save nearly 820 million tonnes of sand every year, said Orr. India has the second-largest construction sector after China.

The shortfall of sand in India has given rise to illegal sand mining that is controlled by criminal gangs. The sand mafia have also been linked to several murders of people who try to highlight their illegal work. In 2015, investigative journalist Jagendra Singh also became a prey of such groups.

If Orr’s findings are put to practical use, it could also bring down such illegal works in the country. At the same time, researchers are also studying the possibility of replacing sand with other waste materials like shredded old car tyres or ground down glass.

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first published:July 20, 2021, 12:09 IST
last updated:July 20, 2021, 12:09 IST