Geosynthetics, sustainability, durability and the environment

Picture of Armand van Wijck


Major savings in CO2 emissions and in the use of energy are reached when geosynthetics are applied in construction projects. But there are also potential environmental issues to be addressed, such as leaching and microplastics.

This article examines the use of geosynthetics from different perspectives: the share of geosynthetics in the total use of plastics as well as the share in the waste stream in Europe and the Netherlands; the possible leaching of hazardous substances from the geosynthetics during the life time and EU regulations in this respect; the various methods of recycling geosynthetics after the life time; and whether microplastics could potentially be generated from geosynthetics.

Depending on the application it may be concluded that the use of geosynthetics reduces the carbon footprint with 32 – 89 % compared to the use of traditional civil engineering materials as concrete, steel and gravel. The savings in energy vary from 5 – 85 %, heavily influenced by the transport distance and the volume (and weight!) of the building materials.

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