The construction industry has been with mankind for centuries. From building huts and pyramids to bridges and skyscrapers, construction work dates back to the BCE era and is still evolving rapidly today.
While technology continues to grow and expand, so does the demand for construction. A rise in single-family homes being built in 2017, for example, has increased the industry’s overall spend to maintain a consistent uptick.
What does this mean for construction workers? Simply put, it means their jobs aren’t going anywhere. In fact, jobs in construction have consistently been on the rise since 2011, which can partially be attributed to a strengthening U.S. economy.
Because of this, the construction industry must keep up with a rise in demand as well as another mandate – going green.
Construction as an Expanding, and Sustainable, Industry
One part of construction that has room for growth is the selection of tools and resources being used for the job. What some people refer to as going green is what others call sustainability, or the desire to build materials while preserving both local resources and the environment as a whole.
- “Green” building designs have made their mark on the construction industry recently, thanks to a desire for homes and commercial buildings that are more energy-efficient. Benefits from this efficiency include lower monthly energy costs and the reduction of carbon footprints.
- Many construction companies have led the way on sustainability – in fact, 9 out of 10 architects consider sustainability a priority when choosing project products and materials.
When it comes to selecting materials, workers are looking outside the box to make smarter choices for their construction sights. Factors such as efficiency, durability and savings are all taken into consideration.
How Recycled Plastics Directly Benefit the Construction Industry
If companies are looking for construction materials that are efficient, durable and money-saving, plastics are incredibly promising.
- A one-year study has shown that the energy that comes from using plastics as a primary construction material is “enough to meet the average annual energy needs of 4.6 million U.S. households.” That’s the equivalent of all the households in 11 out of 50 states.
- More staggering news comes from not only using plastics in construction, but plastics that have been recycled. Not only does this follow the trend of efficient energy, but it also saves space in landfills and reduces costs to an even lower level.
- When recycled plastic is blended with virgin plastic, costs can be lowered because there is a lower amount of brand-new plastic being used and produced. Using recycled plastic can also help save on the costs of other materials, such as wood and slate.
As a low-cost alternative to other materials, this type of plastic being salvaged has brought new life to many industries and companies across the U.S. and around the world. Below, we’ll dive into more specific examples of how using recycled plastics has changed the way a number of materials are being produced.
1. Roofing Tiles
A roof is an essential part of a house, so when it comes to home building, there have been many innovations in roofing methodologies over the years. Using recycled plastics to build roofing tiles is a great way to resemble other more expensive materials, while providing the same high-quality you can expect with materials such as slate.
Other undeniable benefits from recycled plastic roofs include:
- Lighter material
- Easier, quicker installation
- Lower carbon footprint
Recycled plastics can be used to make stronger concrete structures in the form of sidewalks, driveways and more. Students at MIT have recently conducted experiments with recycled plastic by exposing small amounts of it to gamma radiation, mixing it into a powder and then mixing that into cement paste.
Doing so can produce concrete that is up to 15% stronger than regular concrete, allowing this form of construction to be both longer-lasting and more eco-friendly.
3. Indoor Insulation
Insulation is another essential factor in homebuilding and buying because it keeps your home’s temperature regulated all year-round.
Various insulation companies have begun developing insulation with recycled plastic inside of it because only a minimum amount of plastic will maximize your home’s energy efficiency levels.
Additional benefits for insulation from recycled plastics include:
- Easy installation
- Long-term energy savings
4. Structural Lumber
Using recycled plastic as the main ingredient in structural lumber as an alternative to other materials such as steel, comes with indisputable advantages.
By using plastic to make lumber instead of wood, you no longer have to spray wood with toxic preservatives to protect it from aspects such as insects and weather. Rather, the polyethylene from recycled plastics does not necessitate such requirements, and have now been used to make materials like picnic tables and benches.
5. PVC Windows
PVC windows have grown in popularity because they are easy to design and can adapt to many varying styles. A bonus is that because they are made primarily from plastics, the frames are 100% recyclable. Other benefits include:
- Longer lifetime (up to 40 years)
- Surplus of production material
- Same insulation quality as regular plastic
Bricks are a stable material to build a home with, and more and more companies are embracing the idea of building bricks with recycled plastic.
Recycled bricks can be put together in a LEGO-like way, making a home’s building time much quicker than it would be with traditional brick. This plastic product can also be fire-resistant, is cheaper, and, of course, is more eco-friendly.
Another part of a home-building journey may include fencing in a backyard or adding a white picket fence to your front yard. Homeowners can prioritize sustainability by designing fences from recycled plastic.
Additional advantages of building fences with recycled plastic are:
- Longevity (can be exposed to many weather elements without rotting)
- No need for paint (color can be added in during recycling process)
Get the Most Out of Your Plastic with Our Processing Equipment Today
Here at Shini USA, we aim to help customers get the most out of their plastics materials by helping them with processes such as grinding and granulating.
If you’re interested in learning more about how our machines could align with the goals of your company, reach out to our team today. We look forward to hearing from you!