Watch Your Language? Geosynthetics vs. Traditional Materials

Watch Your Language? Geosynthetics vs. Traditional Materials 

By Chris Kelsey

(from the Sept. 8, 2016 issue of

During GeoAmericas 2016, Dr. Neil Dixon’s sustainability keynote touched upon many topics for the future of geosynthetics. While sustainability drove most of the lecture, a few of his ideas simply approached how the field positioned itself in the marketplace. He suggested, for example, moving the field away from isolating language like “versus traditional materials.”

With 40+ years of projects that document how and why geosynthetics have become indispensible to modern infrastructure, why do we continue to present geosynthetic solutions as alternatives?

When will we—the field—present geosynthetics as an equally accepted option in projects that also consider aggregates, clays, hard armor, inextensible reinforcement, thick soil layers, etc.?

In the end, geosynthetics are selected on the same sort of criteria as other engineered system materials. Chiefly: suitability, performance, and economy.


Dr. Dixon’s question is interesting. All options in a project, of course, are “alternatives.” But, he is right to point out that the suggestion may be that geosynthetics are, forever, “new.” This can be problematic.

Read entire article >>