New Tricks for Old Plastic: Building Materials for the New Millennium


From 3D printing to building materials, plastic is sticking its nose in everywhere. Here’s a look at some of the smart ways the AEC industry is repurposing this frequently unpopular substance, earning the thumbs-up from environmentalists, consumers and bean counters alike.

While the world scrambles for solutions to our plastic problem, the AEC industry is alive with new ideas for old plastic. A plethora of construction products — either fully formed from recycled plastic or containing recycled plastic as a major component — regularly arrive on the market. Some of them actually have pretty stupendous impacts on both the environment and the consumer, which generally makes the moneymen happy too. Let’s dive in.

Synthetic clay tile, including a row of translucent tiles.

Protective Plastic: Turn a Negative into a Positive

In an ideal world, there’d be a multi-tentacled organization, combing the globe for plastic trash . . .

Research is being done into reinforcing concrete with plastic, which makes the concrete 15 percent stronger and helps reduce carbon emissions.

Let’s Not Get Prickly About Insulation

Accurately capturing the look and feel of slate gives you a luxe look for less. It’s hard to tell the difference, until you see the savings on the electric bill.

A Panoply of Panels

The AEC industry is alive with new ideas for old plastic.

Future Research

Breathing new life into old plastic bottles: Carpet that is gentle on your feet and gentle on the environment.

Time: Another Valuable Commodity

A single small home removes two tons of plastic from the garbage-stream.

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