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Plastic packaging waste in construction sites: replacement, management and recovery strategies

   School of Science, Engineering and Environment

About the Project

The construction industry is the biggest waste producer in the UK, achieving peaks that surpass 60% of total waste produced per year. Most of this waste is excavation and masonry, which is commonly recycled in low-value uses as rubble for backfilling. But new problems are arising with waste as new transformed materials are integrated in construction and logistics for transportation and storage changes, taking plastic packaging as a very fast growing method. Around 50 tonnes of plastic packaging waste is generated in construction sites in the UK every year. This waste can be perfectly reused in many cases, recycled or even replaced, but this is not the case. It is estimated that 40% of it ends in landfills.

Therefore, there is the need to rethink the way materials are safely packed, transported and stored, as well as to design methods so that plastic packaging waste can be properly managed on site and recovered.

This proposal could include different questions to tackle, among others:

-         Is it possible for manufacturers to replace plastic packaging? Are there more eco-friendly solutions that could cover the same purpose and avoid this waste in construction sites?

-         How can waste plastic packaging be better managed on site, therefore improving waste traceability and recovery? Can we achieve 100% recyclability?

-         How can this waste be properly recycled, keeping the material value and avoiding down-grading?

-         What are the barriers and drivers for these solutions? How can the packaging market, and specifically manufacturers and construction companies, put in practice and scale up these solutions?

-         How does the relationship between construction companies and manufacturers need to change so that they can improve the supply chain and avoid any packaging waste?

We are seeking applicants for a PhD candidate with a background in construction, and strong interest in circular economy. This project is in collaboration with Morgan Sindall North West, which will provide with counselling and support for any action/s to develop on construction sites.

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