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Global warming is a growing fear within society. Where the manufacturing and construction industry are a significant contributors to these emissions. Modern building materials such as iron and steel account for 30 percent of industrial emissions. Also cement accounts for 26 percent. In fact, cement is estimated to contribute to 5 percent of total industrial energy consumption on the planet. These high levels of energy use and industrial emissions in materials are ridiculously high and require attention.
Taking all this account, I do believe we can reduce these emissions significantly, with the substitution of lower-emission materials. It’s fair to say timber would be an ideal choice as it sequesters and stores more carbon than it emits during manufacturing. However, the harsh reality is it means cutting down trees and reducing the amount of oxygen in the air. even if 3 new ones do get planted, they take years to grow and be ready for use. Nonetheless, I do for see grand possibilities with the adoption of a new revolutionary building material, that can significantly alleviate emissions and consumption massively in more than one way.
The answer is actually closer than we think, the detergent sprays and bottles that we use day to day may have more uses. The plastic they are made from may have more to offer than we presume. How is plastic going to help solve the crisis you’re probably asking?
Well, plastic is made up of Polyethylene, which can be cleverly used to make composites. These composites then allow for the stiffening and strengthening in the properties of the plastic. In effect the plastic is to be as such recycled, to form a strong new material that is suitable for building almost anything. The official name for this material is thermoplastic timber. It has already been tested and is in use in varies parts of South and North America and the USA, in bridges (with the capacity of carrying tanks), railroads, fencing, furniture and houses.
Its like an upgraded version of timber, minus the disadvantages of it. It is without a doubt highly beneficial both economically and ecologically.
Firstly, it’s the cheapest out of the standard timber, concrete and iron/ steel. Of course we all know plastic takes a long time to decompose, which normally is a bad thing however, when recycled into a thermoplastic timber it just means a longer life span of around 50 years and plus. Additionally, it is a non-porous material that requires very minimal or no maintenance.
The transportation of this new material has no need for any heavy or particular machinery, all it simply needs are standard trucks, meaning further emissions are to be saved on transportation.
So rather than plastic ending up in landfills, we are able to re-use it as a new sustainable building material capable of revolutionising the industry. The adoption of this new vernacular material, could be the answer to reducing emissions in the building industry in more than just one way and potentially revolutionary for a greener and better future.
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