How geotechs can save clothes from landfills
How geotechs can save used clothing from landfills.

Fast fashion and the increasing quantity of low-quality textile manufacturing has seen a dramatic rise in clothing items ending up in landfill. In fact, the global textile sector is now the world’s second-largest economic contaminant, responsible for 10 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions and 20 percent of worldwide wastewater.

Each stage of the textile production and processing cycle produces a vast amount of effluent, which has a significant harmful effect on the environment. During the de-sizing and whitening process, high biological oxygen demands, and hazardous chlorinated by-products are created.

What’s worrying is the substantial environmental contamination produced by increasing volumes of old clothes in landfills, which are disposed of by garment customers and fashion businesses. In the US alone, textile waste amounted to 5.8 percent of total dumping sites in landfills, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) (2018).

Applications of Textile Waste in Construction and Geotechnical Engineering

It’s no secret that construction and geotechnical engineering are also widely recognised as two areas that use a massive quantity of natural resources.

To address the massive amount of waste output from these industries, textile waste fibre can be used.

Fibrous material has potential uses in architecture and highway construction, including the development of sustainable acoustic and thermal insulation, novel cement (such as polymer concrete) or plastering cement, asphalt masonry, cement composites fabrication, and so on.

Modification of the subgrade layer, stability of the constructed slope and compressed earth, and enhancing the physical qualities of constructed backfill are some of the key applications of textile fibre usage in geotechnics.

Applications in Soil Stabilisation

One of the earliest and most well-established applications of discarded synthetic fibres is the technique of enhancing the mechanical characteristics of soil by including discrete fibres as reinforcing structural components. It is often regarded as a more effective substitute for traditional soil stabilisation approaches that rely on adherent clay soils, rock, cementitious materials, and lime.

To help reduce the resource intensive nature of these industries, let’s examine the physical, chemical, and toxic qualities of natural and manufactured waste fibres to establish their suitability as carbon fibre for architectural and geological reasons.

Natural fibres – pros and cons

Natural fibres commonly used for soil enhancement include palm coconut husk, sisal, jute, wheat hay, and areca.

Pros of using natural fibres in construction and geotechnical engineering.
– Natural fibres come in a wide range of colours and textures.
– Natural fibres are cheap cost and convenient.
– Composite strength and stiffness and be easily changed by altering fibre quantity and length

Cons of using natural fibres in construction and geotechnical engineering.
– Natural fibres are hydrophilic, meaning they can absorb moisture.
– Because of surrounding water between the fibres, a hydrodynamic tension force links them. When it dries, each fibre is attached by adhesion forces. This effect will continue as long as water exists between the fibres.

Synthetic fibres – pros and cons

The most used synthetic fibres used for soil enhancement include polyethene, polyester, and nylon

Pros of using synthetic fibres in construction and geotechnical engineering

– Uniformity of the fibre type facilitates the performance of numerical simulations.
– Synthetic fibres are homogeneous, making them an excellent choice for reinforcement

Cons of using synthetic fibres in construction and geotechnical engineering
– Petroleum is the primary raw material utilised in the production of polymeric materials.

We can see that textile waste has a great potential for use in the fields of civil engineering and geosciences. This will help to reduce the resource intensive nature of this branch of engineering, along with helping to reduce landfill waste. If the limitations of each material are carefully considered, then why not use these materials?

What do you think? Is there a better way to reduce the impact of geotechnical engineering?

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