ORITE meets infrastructure needs through thermoplastic research

Posted: November 17, 2021

Author: Staff reports

Ohio University’s Ohio Research Institute for Transportation and the Environment (ORITE) recently collaborated with the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) on a study that evaluated the performance of pipes created from recycled plastic.

ORITE conducted a year-long experiment in which the pipes were subjected to a high level of constant strain and observed that pipes containing 49.5% recycled material performed as well as virgin resin pipes, which do not use any recycled plastic. These findings helped develop new standards and testing procedures for thermoplastic pipes made from recycled materials. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) will use these standards as a model for implementation in the United States and internationally.

“The approval of the new standards by the AASHTO means that the use of these pipes will be widely adopted,” said Shad Sargand, professor of civil engineering and deputy director of ORITE.

The widespread use of pipes is important as plastic waste enters the oceans, landfills and incinerators daily, resulting in 80 pounds of plastic waste per person each year. The design of the thermoplastic pipes discussed in the study will use recycled plastics to reduce pollution from waste.

“Using recycled plastic in pipes reduces the waste flow, and the pipes can be used to help keep water clean, so recycled plastic pipes improve the environment in two ways,” said Sargand.

While this study focused on the implementation of these pipes for highway drainage purposes, they can also be used in agriculture, mining, and other industrial and infrastructure applications. Recycled-content thermoplastic pipes offer a viable alternative for infrastructure design while helping meet the growing need to reduce plastic pollution.

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