It is estimated that 25% of polymer waste is unsuitable for recycling for three main reasons: it contains mixtures of different types of polymers, it is economically unprofitable and it is too dirty. The SANDPLAST project has developed a technology for the production of concrete building materials using polymer waste and inert fillers
Researchers from the Latvian Technological Centre and the Institute of Polymer Mechanics at the University of Latvia, working with Hormigones Uniland, a Spanish cement company, have together succeeded in turning thermoplastic polymer waste into a binding substance that could be mixed with other materials, like sand, to generate cement-free polymer concrete goods. The polymer concrete bricks look like ordinary bricks made from cement. However, the polymer concrete absorbs less water, so it is very good for resisting temperature variations.
The current production rate is 3 bricks/min, but the team wants to increase production to 30-60 bricks/minute. The team is researching how to accelerate the production of bricks.The researchers believe these innovative bricks will be less expensive than the traditional bricks. They will also prove beneficial for the environment because polymer waste processing could become economically profitable. Key customers, according to the project partners, would be waste management companies and firms that produce large amounts of polymer waste.