In the U.S., most plastics waste is disposed in landfills, but a significant amount also ends up as litter on land, rivers, and oceans. Today, less than 10 percent of plastics waste is recycled in the U.S. annually. The use of recycled plastics in infrastructure applications has potential to help expand the market and demand for plastics recycling.
These are among the findings in TRB Special Report 347: Recycled Plastics in Infrastructure: Current Practices, Understanding, and Opportunities from the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
The report emphasizes that pursuing the recycling of plastics in infrastructure depends on goals, policy, and economics. To that end, life cycle economic and environmental assessments should be conducted to inform policies on plastics waste reuse.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Recycled Plastics in Infrastructure: Current Practices, Understanding, and Opportunities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/27172.
|2 Plastics Properties, Production, and Markets
|3 Management and Sourcing of Plastics Waste
|4 Life-Cycle Considerations
|5 Impact of Policy and Regulation on the Use of Plastics Waste in Infrastructure in the United States
|6 Applications of Recycled Plastics in Pavements
|7 Applications of Recycled Plastics in Other Infrastructure
|8 Plastics Redesign for Recycling
|9 Major Findings and Recommendations
|Appendix A: Study Committee Biographical Information
|Appendix B: Disclosure of Unavoidable Conflict of Interest
|Appendix C: Invited Speakers at Committee Meetings
|Appendix D: Utilization of Plastics Waste in Transportation Infrastructure in State Departments of Transportation
|Appendix E: Overview of Recycled Plastics Supply and Demand: Identifying the Critical Market Bottlenecks for Closing the Loop
|Appendix F: The Use of Plastic Scrap in Transportation Applications in the United States
|Appendix G: Durability and Life-Cycle Implications of Repurposing Plastics Waste in Infrastructure: A Case Study
|Appendix H: The Life-Cycle Environmental Benefits and Trade-Offs of Plastics Waste Recycling and Reuse in Infrastructure
|Appendix I: Glossary
|Appendix J: Overview of Plastics by Resin Identification Code (RIC)
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