5 Ways That Recycled Plastic Has Changed Construction Forever

5 Ways That Recycled Plastic Has Changed Construction Forever

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Innovations Changing The Construction Industry

Here at Plastic Expert, we are recycling all sorts of plastic, from LDPE and HDPE to PP sacks and uPVC window frames. Over the years, we’ve seen countless innovations come, with some sticking around and reshaping the industry, and others drifting away into some forgotten realm. One thing we’ve been through is a construction boom, which we’ve benefited from in terms of material, but from within which we’ve also had a great position to see our construction company partners pursue new ways of putting together buildings and creative ways of reusing plastic waste. 

Let’s talk about five things we’ve seen that we love.

Save The Forests?

About six or seven years ago, a small company in the south of England contacted us asking if we could collaborate to write some content about their novel solution to plastic waste. Now, they might not have been the first company to think of it, but at the time, we were stunned to see a fairly small business source and recycle plastic waste, forming long planks that resembled wood. They were selling these plastic planks to councils for children’s play areas, benches, and fencing.

Since then, we’ve seen many applications of recycled plastic lumber, and we love the ideas that diverting this material from landfill and turning it into a wood alternative helps to reduce deforestation. Right now, we love to see landscaping companies around the world make incredible outdoors areas that communities can benefit from for years to come.

Build A Bridge And Get Over It

Back in 2011, there was a story that almost defied belief, and we pondered back then if the idea could really take roots. A Welsh company called Vertech built Europe’s first bridge entirely from 100% recycled plastic. This 90ft bridge goes over the River Tweed in Scotland and it took a staggering 50 tonnes of vehicle plastic waste and plastic bottles to put together. 

The bridge’s parts were designed and forged off-site, then transported to the site and put together in just 4 days. In fact, from manufacturing to completion the whole process took only 2 weeks. The bridge has stood for nearly a decade now, without rusting and without requiring much maintenance. Now, Europe can boast many recycled plastic bridges thanks to this famous innovation.

A Concrete Solution

The aspect of the construction industry that is the worst for the environment is concrete and the sheer about of carbon emissions it is responsible for. A lot of the time, concrete is not the best or most suitable material for a build, it’s simply available or it’s the cheapest and quickest option. However, in 2017, students at MIT managed to recycle plastic down to powder, mix it into cement paste, and create a version of concrete that is 15% more effective. This concept of mixing waste into the cement process has helped many companies to recycle surplus materials, with glass also being very popular.

Floor, Roof, And Ceiling Tiles

Try to build a house without a floor, without a roof, and without ceilings. It can’t be done (or maybe it can, we are curious to hear your solutions). The point is, tiles are very important for building houses, offices, and commercial premises, so when we see recycled plastic make their way into tiling, we are happy. We’ve even seen recycled plastic used as soundproofing tiles for recording studios. 

Here’s why it’s a great alternative to traditional tile materials:
  • Lighter
  • Quicker to install
  • Lower carbon footprint
  • Easier to clean
  • Quiet and warm
  • More affordable
  • Low maintenance
  • Longer lasting
  • Great insulator

Brick By Brick…

There are few of us in the UK who get through childhood without ever playing with Lego. So, what happens when construction experts start looking at the waste plastic crisis and consider that most buildings need bricks? Well, the result is recycled plastic bricks that work much like giant pieces of Lego. The pieces go beyond just managing a waste stream, they also offer a cheap, fire-resistant, customisable and eco-friendly construction solution. These bricks can also include other construction waste material too, like sand and foundry dust.


The construction industry is full of innovations and the five mentioned in this article are just a tiny glimpse into what is possible and useful for the buildings and projects of the future.

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