Tiles made from plastic and fly ash: A waste-to-wealth approach

Tiles manufactured using fly ash and plastics are cost-effective and help save irrigable topsoil

By Manas Ranjan Senapati
Published: Wednesday 15 September 2021

The combination of two kinds of wastes — single-use plastics with fly ash coal combustion product as a main constituent and coarse sand, fine sand, stone dust and lime as secondary constituents — can give minimum permeability and maximum compressive strength to the manufactured tiles. 

Fly ash is available free of cost at the coal-fired thermal power plants' dump yards; tiles manufactured by using fly ash and plastics (plasto-ash tiles) are cost-effective compared to clay tiles. It helps save irrigable topsoil. 

They also have several significant advantages over conventional tiles: They’re thinner and lighter, have superb heat-insulating properties (five times more than standard tiles) and are just as strong as their stony counterparts.

They’re also great at insulating noise. Each tile helps rid the world of discarded plastic and is cheaper and more fuel-efficient to manufacture than conventional tiles. It is also less energy-intensive.

Single-use plastics, often also referred to as disposable plastics, are commonly used for packaging. They include items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away or recycled.

These include, among other items, grocery bags, food packaging, bottles, straws, containers, cups and cutlery. Some studies suggest that plastic bags and styrofoam containers can take up to thousands of years to decompose. They contaminate soil and water and cause significant ingestion, choking and entanglement hazards to wildlife on land and in the ocean.

In developing countries with inadequate and improper solid waste management regulations, plastic bag litter can aggravate pandemics. By blocking sewage systems and providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other pests, plastic bags can raise the risk of transmission of vector-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue.

The plastic breaks down into microplastic particles; in such a case, it gets difficult to remove it from oceans. Microplastics, if ingested by fish or other marine life, can enter our food chain.

Microplastics have already been found in common table salt as well as in tap and bottled water. Disposal of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the ongoing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has augmented the plastic footprint.

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