Using plastic waste to help solve sand shortages

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With construction sand in short supply crushed plastic is being used as an alternative.

This means that sand is typically dredged from rivers, and due to the environmental damage this causes a number of countries have introduced bans in recent years - including India, Cambodia and Vietnam.

"The issue is construction. We are building cities and towns at an unprecedented pace," she adds. "But many of us also don't realize that sand is used for things like smartphone and TV screens, solar panels and other electric items," she says. Unlike sand, plastic won't stick to the cement paste around it, so it can only replace 10% of the raw material, he says. "But that still saves the need for a huge amount of sand, and helps to reduce the vast amount of plastic waste on India's streets.

Despite these innovations, Dr Orr and other experts warn against relying on them too much. Instead they point to changes in building design as a more viable long-term solution. Among the other potential solutions, Mr Beiser explains, is an international certification body for sand similar to the Forest Stewardship Council, which certifies that wood comes from responsibly managed forests.


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