Can we use plastic waste to build roads, buildings, and more?

April 7, 2024


In a new white paper commissioned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), Lepech and Li study the current status, challenges, and needs of recycling plastics in a circular economy, and examine the long-term durability and environmental costs of doing so for use in infrastructure. Using a mix of computer modeling, scientific research, experimental and field data, as well as interviews with recycling industry stakeholders, Lepech and Li analyze case studies using plastic waste for façade panels in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and pavement in a California Department of Transportation road project. Among other results, their findings indicate that recycled glass fiber reinforced polymer composite – a tensile plastic commonly used in car, boat, and plane parts – is a promising material for reuse in buildings.


Zhiye Li, Michael Lepech, Rob Jordan


Rob, Jordan. “Reusing Plastic Waste in Infrastructure.” Stanford News, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, 18 July 2023,–sx3np96A9KFrLoCZJLHk81fDW2904Wkdts05aA3uscYIq4esi0iJL2g2XqW167fzkv4ugzY6u_ZsXMhM_7N7i_SQ4eA&utm_content=271094024&utm_source=hs_email.