Environmental concerns arising from the over-dredging of sand have led to restrictions on its extraction across India, with direct economic impacts on concrete construction. A suitable environmentally friendly alternative to sand must be found to match the huge demand from the concrete construction industry. At the same time, waste plastic is rarely recycled in India, with as much as 40% left in landfill. The dumping of such materials which degrade at extremely low rates meaning they persist in the environment is a long-term environmental concern.
To tackle both issues, it is proposed to process waste plastic to create a partial replacement for fine sand in a novel mix for structural concrete. In this paper eleven new concrete mixes are evaluated to study five plastic material compositions, three groups of particle sizes, three different aspect ratios, and two chemical treatments and establish an appropriate choice of material to act as partial replacement for sand.
The results show that replacing 10% sand by volume with recycled plastic is a viable proposition that has the potential to save 820 million tonnes of sand every year. Through suitable mix design the structural performance of concrete with plastic waste can be maintained. This preliminary work was supported through funding from the British Council under the UKIERI (United Kingdom India Educational Research Initiative) programme for the project ‘Development of structural concrete with the help of plastic waste as partial replacement for sand’.