About the research
Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges in not only Iowa but also other states. Recent bans on imported plastic waste into developing countries has forced many US cities and states to take issues related to plastic waste more seriously. In addition, fiberglass-based (also known as glass-reinforced plastic or glass-fiber-reinforced plastic) wind turbine blades from wind powered generators in Iowa are being heaped up in piles in landfills instead of recycled.
The objectives of this research are to determine the structural benefits and environmental suitability of using recycled plastics as a base stabilization agent and then to develop a practitioner’s guide to document best practices to implement such a solution in Iowa’s gravel road network. This will be achieved through the execution of the following primary tasks: (1) characterization of recycled plastic materials, including recycled wind turbine blade materials, (2) identification of innovative solutions of using recycled plastics to stabilize granular roads through comprehensive laboratory assessment, (3) construction and assessment of pilot test sections employing identified solutions through a set of field tests and surveys, (4) determination of the structural benefits and environmental suitability, (5) cost-effectiveness evaluation, and (6) development of best practice guidance documents and implementation recommendations. The successful outcomes of this research will not only help reduce landfill waste but also provide an innovative and less expensive alternative to strengthen the bases of Iowa’s granular roads.