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Plastic Waste in the Building and Construction Sector

Posted in Construction & Architecture
Plastic Waste in the Building and Construction Sector
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By Arava Yizhaki-Madar

Plastic materials are a common component in the building and construction industry. This is due to their durability, cost-effectiveness, energy efficiency, safety, and ease of installation.

Some examples of plastic applications are:

  • PVC and polyethylene are used to make internal wall cladding and flooring as it is less likely to wear out. 
  • Polycarbonate sheets and PVC sheets are used for roofing and skylights. 
  • IMP and ACP cores are insulated with polyurethane foam. 
  • Walls, roofs, and doors are insulated with polyurethane or polystyrene. 
  • PVC, ABS, and PE are the most common materials used in pipes. 
  • Polycarbonate is a popular glazing material used for windows, canopies, and curtain walls.

The volume of these applications in a construction project is usually small, compared to metals and concrete. Plastic even contributes to lighter construction and a reduction in the use of heavier elements.

The construction sector shows positive figures when it comes to plastic waste generation and plastic waste management.

There are two reasons for this: product lifespans and waste management.

In this post, I will review some relevant facts & figures to help visualize this.

One of the major reasons for the exceptionally positive figures of the building and construction sector is the long product lifecycle.

What industries produce the most plastic waste?

The primary cause of plastic pollution is poor waste management. Different types of plastic waste result in different effects. The packaging and textile industries, for example, represent 50% of global plastic usage, and almost 65% of global plastic waste. The building and construction industry, on the other hand, accounts for only 10% of the world’s plastics and contributes only 4% of the world’s plastic waste.

By ensuring proper waste management and long product lifespans, the building and construction industry minimizes plastic waste accumulation. Source: ScienceAdvances

What happens when plastic waste gets mismanaged?

When waste is not managed properly, it can leak and pollute the environment and ocean through waterways, winds, and tides.

Most high-income countries have a well-developed waste management infrastructure. In contrast, improperly disposed waste is a major problem in many countries with low or middle incomes. In some countries, 80-90 percent of plastic waste is improperly disposed of, posing a threat to rivers and oceans.

The improper disposal of waste is a major issue in many developing and middle-income countries.

Palram’s polymers

Palram is aware of its environmental responsibilities. In keeping with our commitment to environmental sustainability, we use PVC and Polycarbonate, which are highly recyclable, and make up only a small fraction of the global plastic waste.

All of our building and construction products are built to last. Our products have a longer life cycle, which reduces waste during the entire product lifecycle. Long-life products allow the end-users of our products to create, use, and dispose of materials more efficiently.

Palram waste management program

We use recycled plastic resin in all of our products. Production scraps are collected, processed, and repurposed. This closed-loop production reduces our plastic waste to less than 1%. We collect cut-offs and scraps from our customers and end-users. Additionally, we purchase scrap materials from external suppliers throughout Europe, preventing waste from filling landfills and incinerators.

Palram’s recycling plants process over 13,000 tons of polycarbonate and PVC every year. These materials are then extruded into new Palram products. That’s almost 3,000 truckloads of plastic diverted from landfills every year!

Palram’s in-house recycling plants handle over 13,000 tons of polycarbonate and PVC annually.