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Using reed and clay, REEDuce gives highway noise barriers a sustainable makeover

Noise pollution adversely affects health, particularly for those living near high-traffic roads or loud industrial sites. To shield communities from noise and its associated health risks, barriers are essential. While traditional barriers dampen noise, their construction poses environmental concerns. Often made of concrete or chemically-treated wood, their production and disposal contribute significant CO2 emissions and generate problematic waste at the end of their lifespan.

An Austrian startup has found an alternative that's lightweight, fast-growing and can be sourced locally: reed. REEDuce has created the world's first ecological noise barrier system from reed, thermally-treated wood and clay. The barriers don't just effectively reduce noise pollution but sequester more CO2 than they emit during production. By binding particulate matter, the structures also help improve air quality. And to top it off, the spaces between the stems of reed provide a habitat for insects like wild bees.

REEDuce is currently building its first pilot along the S33 highway at the Herzogenburg Nord exit in Lower Austria. According to its calculations, each square meter of the noise barrier will save at least 60 kg of CO2. The expected lifespan of a REEDuce barrier is at least 20 years.

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Causing stress, sleep disturbances and even cardiovascular diseases, noise pollution negatively impacts the health and well-being of millions of people. According to REEDuce, nearly one-third of Austrians and over 100 million people in the EU are affected by constantly high levels of noise. Urban areas are particularly susceptible, and motorized vehicles are often the primary culprits.

Citizens demand (and deserve!) cities that champion sustainability and protect their inhabitants from mental and physical harm. With its carbon-sinking noise barriers, REEDuce addresses both issues in one hushed swoop. The share of the world's population living in cities is expected to rise from 55% now to 80% by 2050, so the need for innovative, multi-beneficial solutions will only grow. One to get in on?!