This work is aimed to present an innovative technology for the reinforcement of beams for urban furniture, produced by in-mold extrusion of plastics from solid urban waste. This material, which is usually referred to as “recycled plastic lumber”, is characterized by very poor mechanical properties, which results in high deflections under flexural loads, particularly under creep conditions. The Prowaste project, founded by the EACI (European Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation) in the framework of the Eco-Innovation measure, was finalized to develop an innovative technology for selective reinforcement of recycled plastic lumber. Selective reinforcement was carried out by the addition of pultruded glass rods in specific positions with respect to the cross section of the beam, which allowed optimizing the reinforcing efficiency. The reinforcement of the plastic lumber beams with pultruded rods was tested at industrial scale plant, at Solteco SL (Alfaro, Spain). The beams obtained, characterized by low cost and weight, were commercialized by the Spanish company. The present paper presents the most relevant results of the Prowaste project. Initially, an evaluation of the different materials candidates for the reinforcement of recycled plastic lumber is presented. Plastic lumber beams produced in the industrial plant were characterized in terms of flexural properties. The results obtained are interpreted by means of beam theory, which allows for extrapolation of the characteristic features of beams produced by different reinforcing elements. Finally, a theoretical comparison with other approaches which can be used for the reinforcement of plastic lumber is presented, highlighting that, among others, the Prowaste concept maximizes the stiffening efficiency, allowing to significantly reduce the weight of the components.
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