Scientists at Australia's James Cook University won an innovation award at this year's Australian Innovation Challenge for developing a method to use recycled industry plastics in concrete.

They developed technology that produces polypropylene fibers from industrial plastic wastes. Due to the improved melt spinning and hot drawing process, they produced fibers strong enough to replace steel mesh in concrete footpaths.

This use of recycled plastic makes the concrete more environmentally friendly:

Use of recycled plastic fibers in concrete eliminates the need for steel mesh and saves significant amounts of carbon dioxide associated with steel production, note the researchers. Comprehensive life cycle assessment shows the production of recycled plastic fibre produces 90% less carbon dioxide and eutrophication (contamination of water bodies with nutrients) compared with the equivalent steel:

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