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CSIR researches and declares plastic waste is good for construction

BY: Salomey Appiah-Adjei

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) says its research has shown that some waste plastic materials can be recycled to replace coarse aggregate in concrete and block moulding for the construction industry.

Coarse aggregate refers to the portion of the concrete which is made up of the larger stones contained in the mix.

The discovery followed a research into the possible use of recycled plastic waste for building and construction works as part of the efforts to put plastic waste to good use.

And the discovery by the research centre could prove a long term solution to the plastic waste menace in the country.

According to the Head of the Advanced Materials Science Division of the Building and Road Research Institute (BRRI) of the CSIR, Dr Ama Tagbor, the research also proved the effective and efficient use of some waste plastic in bituminous mixes for construction of roads, waste as walling materials in construction and rubber tyre as stabilisation for soil.

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Objectives of GRIPE

Dr Tagbor who was speaking at a workshop on sustainable plastic management in Accra yesterday said polyethylene terephthalate (PET) which comprised plastic water bottles and high density polyethylene (HDPE) were the two main plastics that were suitable for the construction and building works.

The workshop was organised by the Ghana Recycling Initiative by Private Enterprises (GRIPE), a coalition of some prominent manufacturing companies in Ghana, with the aim of working with other stakeholders to integrate sustainable solutions to manage waste, particulary plastics, in the country.

The companies include Fan Milk Limited, Dow Chemical West Africa Limited, Guinness Ghana, Nestlé Ghana Limited, PZ Cussons, The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Ghana, Unilever Ghana Limited and Voltic (GH) Limited, Finepack Industries Limited and KGM Industries Limited.

GRIPE, an industry-led coalition, was formed in 2017 under the auspices of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI).

The research by the CSIR was sponsored by GRIPE, and it formed part of the objective of the initiative which seeks to focus on research, advocacy, innovation and multi-stakeholder collaboration.

Benefits

Dr Tagbor, who is also a Senior Scientist, explained that the use of polymeric materials in the construction of roads enhanced road performance by making it stronger, more durable and cost effective.

She further noted that the use of plastic waste for concrete also helped to save some cost of raw materials, minimised the quantity of plastics in landfills/plastic pollution of the environment, created strong, durable, decorative and attractive landscaping products.

Dr Tagbor, therefore, recommended further investigations and research to assess the effect of the environment on the performance of waste plastic concrete.

Embrace recycling

The Manager for Africa Sustainability and Advocacy, Ms Adwoa M. Coleman, said the aim of the GRIPE initiative was to create a more holistic approach that addressed plastic waste management by enabling recycling efforts in Ghana.

She said waste management was a shared responsibility, hence the initiative to support the efforts of the government and others stakeholders.

Ms Coleman further underscored the need for Ghanaians to embrace recycling by starting with the simple action of segregating and sorting their waste - separating their organic material (food waste) from recyclables such as plastic, paper, aluminium, cans and caps.

On the objective of the initiative, Ms Coleman said it sought to advocate improved waste management practices, connect various organisations working to create an improved waste management system and contribute to increased collection and recycling rates countrywide.

She noted that since the inception of GRIPE more than 60 plastic collection points had been created and 360 waste pickers capacity had been built.