Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Composite-reinforced concrete; Polyethylene--Recycling;


Removing plastic from landfills does not solve the solid waste problem entirely. Plastic products are difficult to recycle because, unlike aluminum or glass, the plastics used in food packaging cannot be reused for the same purpose. Among the commonly used plastic resins, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) has been widely adopted by the packaging industry. This research study was concerned with recycling of PET thermoplastic in concrete as a way to reduce the volume of solid waste.

Current surveys of recycling efforts reveal that existing PET recycling approaches have become inadequate. Solid waste management is stressing the eminent need for new recycling technologies that may provide a broader perspective than is known today. One solution may be found in concrete, the most used of all construction materials, and one that has rarely been exposed to the ongoing plastic revolution.

Development of a theoretical base, coupled with recognition of certain assumptions and limitations, led to a research design which formulated the PET's role as a reinforcing agent in pavement and floor concrete composites. The focus was on the specific size, volume, and quality of the PET material. The commercially available PET chips used varied in their outside dimensions with width measuring from 1/32" to 1/4", length 1/32" to 1/2", and thickness remaining constant at 1/64". The research was conducted with plain concrete of type I design mix in a control group, and in four different PET concrete composite experimental groups.

The division among experimental groups was both quantitative and qualitative, as the content of PET governed. Effect of PET quantity was observed on two different volume fractions with content of 0.1% or 1.0% of PET respectively. The effect of PET quality was measured on two different grades; contaminated PET, labeled "as received," and solvent "washed" chips.

The ACI and ASTM Standards were followed in laboratory testing. A 28-day curing period was selected for all 75 concrete specimens. Subsequently, a "three test program" comprised of 25 flexural, 25 splitting tensile, and 25 compressive strength tests, was conducted.

The research outcome revealed that the introduction of PET aggregate in concrete composite is feasible. The various additions of PET did not deliver any significant changes in the value of flexular and splitting tensile strengths. Also, a moderate increase in compressive strength with a higher content of "washed" PET was observed. The potential for industry-wide adoption remains, and the need for possible on-site research is strongly suggested to confirm this study's findings.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Industrial Technology


Department of Industrial Technology

First Advisor

Mohammad F. Fahmy, Advisor

Second Advisor

John T. Fecik, Co-Advisor

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (x, 126 pages)



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