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Image courtesy of Foster + Partners



RMIT University engineers have developed a method for using disposable personal protective equipment (PPE) to make concrete stronger, providing an innovative way to significantly reduce the waste generated by the pandemic. […]

Co-lead author Dr Rajeev Roychand said construction industries around the world have real potential to play an important role in turning this waste into a valuable resource. — Daily Science


According to RMIT researchers, an incredible 54,000 tonnes of PPE waste has been produced daily since the start of the pandemic. “With a circular economy approach, we could keep this waste out of landfills while harnessing the full value of these materials to create better products – that’s a win on all counts,” said Professor Jie. Li, team research leader and corresponding author. .

Three separate materials were shredded and then mixed into the concrete at rates between 0.1 and 0.25%. Daily Science reports that, among other deliverables, the research found that:

  • rubber gloves increased compressive strength by up to 22%
  • isolation gowns increased resistance to bending stress by up to 21%, resistance to compression by 15% and elasticity by 12%
  • face masks increased compressive strength by up to 17%

According to the scientists, “the next step in the research is to assess the potential for mixing PPE flows, develop practical implementation strategies and work on field trials.” This could have significant potential impacts on the construction industry. Someone better alert Gavin Wade.