Plastics (fishnets) in Pavements (06/08/22)

June 8, 2022 @ 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Speaker: Jennifer Lynch, Research Biologist, National Institute of Standards and Technology and Co-Director, Hawaii Pacific University’s Center for Marine Debris Research

Plastic pollution is a global environmental problem that is predicted to worsen. Hawaiʻi is an unfortunate hotspot with record quantities of plastic washing ashore from distant locations and harming coral reefs, marine organisms and aesthetics of the natural landscape. Much of this plastic pollution comes in the form of foreign derelict fishing gear. Finding a long-term use for this material, such as improving asphalt roads by replacing a portion of the binder with plastic from derelict fishing nets, could spur more environmental cleanup and create a win-win for the environment and economy of Hawaiʻi. Many countries and states are recycling plastics into asphalt already, but the public has warranted concerns that the pavement may produce unintended environmental damages, such as releasing microplastics or leaching plastic additives into aquatic habitats. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Hawaiʻi Pacific University’s Center for Marine Debris Research (CMDR) has developed methods for environmental chemical measurements. Working with the Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation, CMDR will test microplastic and plastic additive leaching from asphalt paved with recycled plastics. In addition, the University of Hawaiʻi will test the mechanical performance of the asphalt. Our future data will provide more understanding and information on potential of recycling plastics into roadways.

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