JUL 31, 2023 10:00 AM PDT

Using Plastic Bottles to Improve Landfills

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Vingum

Researchers at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan have devised a new way to take plastic bottles that often find their way into landfills to improve these same landfills and protect the surrounding environment. The team’s work is published in a recent article in Waste Management.

Landfills have become an increasingly concerning aspects of human effects on the world around us. We’ve all seen pictures of massive landfills heaped with trash and refuse, getting bigger and bigger each year. While the accumulation of trash looks unpleasant, there’s also a lot of pollution happening behind the scenes that can often get overlooked. Specifically, the trash in landfills can often contain toxic chemicals that then leaks into the surrounding soil and groundwater, contaminating them. This can pose significant health risks to humans and futher hurt the environment.

One common item that often gets dumped into a landfill include plastics; in particular, plastics that contain polyethylene terephthalate (PET), or microplastics. Each year, millions of tons of microplastics find their way into landfills each year. Microplastics, in particular, can circulate in water supplies and find their way to humans and animals alike, causing significant health problems.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia may have come up with a solution that protects the surrounding environment from contamination while making better use of these discarded plastics: constructing landfills and reinforcing them to prevent toxic chemicals from spilling out. Specifically, researchers have developed a new way to take these microplastics and incorporating them into clay soil stabilization processes. In many landfills, clay soils barriers are created as a way to prevent chemicals from leeching into the surrounding soil. With the help of microplastics, researchers have designed a way to reinforce these clay walls by creating a water-resistant barrier that keeps many of these toxic chemicals in the landfill.

While the study produced promising results, the research team suggests there is still much work to be done to designed landfills with microplastics.

Sources: Science Daily; Waste Management

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Science writer and editor, with a focus on simplifying complex information about health, medicine, technology, and clinical drug development for a general audience.
You May Also Like
Loading Comments...