PET project: Old plastic bottles can be used to improve paving and prevent flooding (The Economist, Dec 6th)

Construction materials

PET project

Old plastic bottles can be used to improve paving and prevent flooding

Dec 6th 2010

SOMETIMES a common solution can be found for two apparently unrelated problems. That may be true of repairing paths and other surfaces, and disposing of old plastic bottles. Naji Khoury and his colleagues at Temple University in Philadelphia have come up with a way of turning plastic waste into a cement-like substance that has advantages over conventional paving materials.

The plastic they are using is  polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is commonly found in soft-drinks bottles and some other forms of packaging. More than 15m tonnes of the stuff were produced in 2009. Products made with PET usually contain only that one type of plastic, which makes them easy to recycle. The plastic is sorted into different colours, cleaned and broken into flakes. Demand for this material (for making things like fabric and carpets) does not, however, exceed supply, so many bottles and containers still end up being dumped.

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