It is the 21st century and we’re waking up to a huge environmental crisis.
Humans are using up all available non-renewable sources of energy on the planet.
There are multiple crises at play which are contributing to this global environmental crisis – non-uniform human population explosion, large scale deforestation, excess consumption, unimaginable production of non-biodegradable waste, a lack of responsible waste management and recycling issues which as this story today on BBC News… the list goes on and on.
It is only recently (in the past couple of decades) that we’ve started paying heed to our surroundings and tried to assess the human impact and the consequences. Thus, the solutions to our problems are still work-in-progress. But among the many important steps we must take to curb our problems, ‘recycling our waste and resources’ is a top priority.
Therefore, paperboard products made of 100% recycled paper are an obvious choice to replace various non-sustainable and costly materials. In fact, paperboard tubes have been around for a while now, dating back to 1950s, and have proved to be cheap and eco-friendly.
Now used in a variety of industries ranging from packaging to construction, paperboard is particularly known for its strength and structural integrity and enable 100% recyclability.
Characteristics that make paperboard the first choice for the construction industry:
100% recyclable – can be reused or recycled as desired
Inexpensive – relative to other structural material available
Strength & stiffness – ability to support structural loads as per building codes
Technological advancements in engineering processes have enabled paper tubes to be highly engineered making them suitable for a variety of uses in construction and industrial winding operations. Depending on the use and function for which it is being used, the paperboard cores and tubes can be engineered for the required size, strength and integrity for numerous industrial and construction applications.
Application of Paperboard Tubes in Architecture
Until as recently as 2010, the use of paperboard was limited in the field of architecture. This was based on the fact that paper strength is compromised when exposed to high humidity levels. This limited its use for various load bearing structures.
However, thanks to some very powerful and pioneering work by 2014 Pritzker prize-winning Japanese Architect Shigeru Ban, we are now capable of manufacturing paperboard tubes which are specially treated to prevent moisture penetration. This technique has allowed paperboard to be used for architectural structures that display high load bearing capacity and structural strength that meet the compliances and permits.
Thus, paperboard tubes now find wide use in designing temporary or semi-permanent structures such as exhibition and entertainment spaces, houses, shelter homes and even bridges! Shigeru Ban’s design was used following the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in November of 2013 to provide emergency shelter in the Cebu region of the Philippines.
Paperboard Tubes in Construction Engineering
As mentioned previously, paperboard tubes have been used in the construction industry since 1950s, primarily for creating concrete columns for building frame construction. Large diameter tubes have also traditionally been used for horizontal formwork for bridges and similar structures.
While the currently available paperboard tubes are not optimized for heavy structural application, there is huge merit in using paper tubes for designing structures due to its recyclability and sustainable use.
Currently, numerous research work is already underway globally to make effective use of paperboard material and tubes to replace high cost material which can enable low cost and sustainable construction. This can potentially address the worldwide need for low cost housing and construction.