We increasingly read or hear statements about the negative impacts of plastics on our environment. While it’s true that plastic bottles littering public spaces certainly don’t benefit the earth or its inhabitants, it’s important to remember that there are many types of plastic and many ways in which it can be used.
What are geosynthetics?
Geosynthetics (plastics that are used in the earth) are a family of plastic-based products that are helping us conserve resources and protect the environment. These important products include geomembranes (liners) and floating covers. In most cases, geosynthetics are not only the most energy efficient and cost effective way of constructing infrastructure projects, but they simultaneously provide systems which help protect the environment.
What makes geosynthetics a good choice for the environment?
They are less resource intensive
The plastics used in geosynthetics are lightweight, durable, and easy to install requiring considerably less energy to ship and place than alternative construction materials and techniques. Geosynthetics are also resource efficient; plastics account for only 2% of all petroleum use and do not contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Plastics are also resistant to corrosion and degradation which allows us to use them for permanent applications such as landfill liners and reservoir floating covers.
They safeguard our water
Geomembranes are impervious plastic liners designed to contain a wide variety of liquids including water, waste water and various chemicals. Geomembranes are normally used for water containment and waste water treatment ponds. Each year Layfield helps safeguard precious drinking water by carefully lining and/or covering ponds and reservoirs with drinking water rated geomembranes.. Lining a reservoir with a plastic geomembrane is much less energy intensive and far more effective than lining a reservoir with clay, concrete, or asphalt. And, where other liner types can contribute contaminants to the water, plastic reservoir liners maintain the purity of the water. Our floating covers protect drinking water from evaporation and contamination. Lined ponds with floating covers are much more cost effective methods of storage than tanks or structural reservoirs and are gaining in popularity around the world.
They prevent soil contamination
In waste water applications, we line ponds with geomembranes to prevent groundwater contamination that could occur from waste water and industry waste seepage. Geomembrane-lined waste water ponds contain the waste, allowing industry to recycle or properly treat the water prior to release to the environment.
Another key use of geomembranes is the secondary containment of petroleum fuels. Each year Layfield protects the environment by lining thousands of tank berms containing fuel tanks. In the last 20 years we have seen the success of these liners as spills and tank failures have been properly contained by the plastic liner.
They advance alternative energy production
Layfield is also at the forefront of utilizing floating covers to collect biogas from waste water treatment ponds. The collected biogas can then be burned for fuel or used to make electricity. It feels good to know that not only do our liners prevent environmental damage, but that they can actually preserve resources and even enable processes that give back energy. Each pond that we convert is one more step towards protecting our environment.
Layfield and geosynthetics – working with our planet
Every day our team is tackling the real problems of environmental protection with innovative and efficient materials called geosynthetics. Each year, Layfield lines enough ponds to contain 500 million US gallons* of water and waste water and produces enough floating covers to protect 370 million US gallons* of water. We also supply enough geomembrane to ensure secondary containment for 2.5 million barrels* of petroleum fuel.
For further information on Layfield’s environmental products and services as well as important industry information and reference materials on plastics, please visit the following websites:
*Estimates based on 2007 material sales and estimate of average project size.