Once upon a time recycled plastics were rumored to be making everything from carpeting to deck furniture to clothing. But it turns out all the clothing and carpeting in the world can’t keep up with the volume of plastic being churned out by the minute. And now researchers are eyeing the very ground we walk on. Plastisoil is the latest product being assembled in research labs at Temple University. It’s a mixture of flaked plastics with soil that forms a material similar to concrete or asphalt. And it is even better than concrete because it’s porous and therefore results in less runoff than other paved surface. But wait there’s more. The porosity of Plastisoil could also lead to its use as a filter, stopping pollutants from getting into the ground.
Of course plastic recycling is a rather complicated chain with seven types of plastic, not all of which are easily recycled. Soda and water bottles are best. They’re reincarnated as tennis balls, life jackets and winter coats. Plastics from laundry detergent, motor oil and shampoo containers become decks, but grocery bags and shower curtains are likely just hanging around in landfills because they are not easily recycled. And so it goes. In the case of Plastisoil, it comes from water and soft drink bottles. The Coke on your desk could soon be paving your street. Who would have guessed?
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