New Bridge in Wales Made from Recycled Plastic Waste

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European engineers have completed a 90-foot bridge over the River Tweed in Wales that is made completely from recycled plastic, the first thermoplastic bridge to be built outside the U.S.

The bridge, which consists of 50 tons of recycled high-density polyethylene materials that would have otherwise been buried in landfills, is able to support vehicles as heavy as 44 tons. Because it is made of plastic, it will never rot or rust, and will not require chemical treatment, painting, or regular maintenance, according to Vertech Composites, the UK-based firm that designed and built the bridge.

And with an expected lifespan of about 50 years, that would yield a savings of $300 per-square-foot during its lifecycle compared with bridges made of standard building materials, the firm says.

In completing the project, Vertech engineers worked with several groups, including the Cardiff University School of Engineering and Rutgers University’s Advanced Polymer Center, that also helped construct a thermoplastic composite bridge at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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