Environmental benefits by using construction methods with geosynthetics
Conference contribution, 2014

Geosynthetic materials are used in many different applications in the civil and underground engineering. In most cases, the use of geosynthetic material replaces the use of other materials. On behalf of the European Association for Geosynthetic Manufacturers (EAGM) the authors quantified the environmental performance of commonly applied construction materials (such as concrete, cement, lime or gravel) versus geosynthetics. To this end a set of comparative life cycle assessment studies are carried out, according to the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards, concentrating on various application cases, namely filtration, foundation stabilised road, landfill construction and slope retention. The environmental performance of geosynthetics is compared to the performance of competing construction materials used. The environmental impacts of the full life cycle of the four cases show overall the following results: • A filter using a geosynthetic layer causes lower impacts compared to a conventional gravel based filter layer with regard to all impact category indicators investigated. • A conventional road causes higher impacts compared to a road reinforced with geosynthetics with regard to all impact category indicators. • A geosynthetic drainage layer causes lower environmental impacts compared to a gravel based drainage layer in all impact categories considered except land competition which is about the same in both cases. • A geosynthetic reinforced wall causes lower environmental impacts compared to a reinforced concrete wall in all impact categories considered.


reinforced wall



environmental impacts




Geosynthetic materials

ISO 14040/14044

Cumulative Energy Demand

Global Warming Potential


Holger Wallbaum

Chalmers, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Building Technology

Sybille Büsser-Knöpfel

Rene Itten

Rolf Frischknecht

Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Geosynthetics

Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)

Subject Categories

Geotechnical Engineering

Infrastructure Engineering

Other Environmental Engineering

Environmental Management

Textile, Rubber and Polymeric Materials



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