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Emesh achieves a win-win-win result

Emesh is earning green stars for environmental ratings plus ticks for cost and performance, according to Pat Murray of Glynn Tucker Engineers.

"A major technical challenge facing engineers today is how to be good global citizens while delivering structurally superior results," Pat says.

Pat has used Fibercon’s virgin synthetic fibre reinforced concrete products for more than a decade in footpaths, driveways and car park surfaces. More recently, he’s tested Emesh, which features 100% recycled plastic fibres.

He said Emesh offered cost savings, time-savings and carbon savings – a win-win-win result.

"From within the building industry there is a push for earning green stars for environmentally friendly outcomes," Pat says.

"This is where products like steel, which has a very energy intensive manufacturing process, don’t earn as many green stars as its carbon cost is very high."

"One of the advantages of the plastic fibres used by Fibercon is that we were able to omit the steel mesh that would normally be incorporated in our pavements."

"The plastic fibres are not only more environmentally friendly than steel mesh, but Emesh performs better technically in many applications and situations."

For example, tree roots commonly wreak havoc on pavements.

"As roots grow they tend to displace the footpath and break up the concrete slab," Pat says.

"The plastic fibres produce a much more ductile slab so it will tend to hang together better than reinforced concrete."

"Secondly, Emesh produces an outcome that is much more environmentally friendly because of the lower carbon emissions that result from the manufacturing, transportation and construction of the final project compared to steel mesh."

Using Emesh also offers an opportunity to save money, Pat explains.

"There are a lot of hidden costs associated with the conventional approach, but because the plastic fibres in Emesh are incorporated into the product at batch time, at the concrete plant, we can bypass those costs as it arrives on the site ready to use," he says.

"You don’t need a separate truck to deliver steel product to site, and you don’t have the labour costs associated with placing the mesh in the slab."

"This also means you don’t have the inspection costs of needing someone to ensure that the mesh is properly placed."

Pat says the range of advantages of using plastic fibre reinforced concrete, including its reduced carbon load, was why he had seen some Councils using only plastic fibre concrete in their footpath projects.

He hopes engineers will start educating themselves about Emesh and what it can offer them.

"Engineers tend to be conservative and take the approach of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, but that saying no longer applies because the way we have done things for 100 years is broken," he says.

"We are producing a much heavier carbon footprint and that needs to be addressed.

"The environment wasn’t a consideration 100 years ago, but it’s a very important consideration now, so engineers just need to become aware that there is a better way of doing things and a simple way of being good global citizens."