Recycling Face Masks Into Roads
Repurposing of COVID-19 single-use face masks for pavements base/subbase
An experimental study published in the journal of Science of the Total Environment found that face masks can be recycled to make roads. The research team developed a material that can be used for base layers of roads and pavements made from shredded face masks and processed building rubble.
A one kilometer stretch of a two-lane road would use approximately 3 million masks and divert 93 tons of waste from landfill. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only created a global health and economic crisis but has also had dramatic effects on the environment. If we can bring circular economy thinking to this massive waste problem, we can develop the smart and sustainable solutions we need.
The RMIT research team may have come up with the perfect recipe to tackle both waste streams using a mixture of 1 per cent shredded face masks and 99 per cent RCA. This ratio creates a strong yet flexible product, meaning it won’t crack under the pressure of heavy trucks, that holds up when tested for stress, acid and water resistance and meets civil engineering safety standards.
After the success of their pilot study, the researchers are now looking at the possibility of creating a concrete aggregate with face masks. An estimated 6.8 billion disposable face masks are being used across the world each day during the pandemic, only to end up in landfill or polluting our oceans.
This initial study looked at the feasibility of recycling single-use face masks into roads and we were thrilled to find it not only works, but also delivers real engineering benefits.
Kurpiel Inc of Hackensack NJ
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