Plastic waste and carbon emissions are two of the most significant problems we are facing today. Addressing both would be a win for the environment and climate change.
An article in the Asia Pacific Infrastructure magazine August-September issue features a plastic road, made from 70% recycled plastic from plastic bottles, beer cups, plastic furniture, and cosmetic packaging.
Its first pilot project is the installation of a 30-meter-long bicycle in Zwolle, Netherlands. The project is a collaboration the three companies, an engineering firm, a plastic piping company, and an energy company.
The initiative started in 2018 and has finished its two pilots. It took 1000kg of recycled plastic, equivalent to 218 thousand plastic cups to make each pilot.
The company is doing continuous testing and improvement to ensure that the plastic pavement is strong and durable enough to carry heavy vehicles like garbage trucks and maintenance vehicles.
At this stage, the plastic pavement can be used as parking lots and the first pilot for this is underway, the article says.
Some of the features of the plastic roads include:
- It uses a prefabricated and lightweight modular piece like a Lego, which makes it easy and quick to install taking just a few days and with fewer community disruptions compared to traditional road construction methods.
- It cuts carbon emissions between 50 to 70% compared to conventional roads made of asphalt or concrete with a possibility for more emissions cut when industrial production begins in 2021.
- Producing plastic roads also significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional road construction.
- It has a hollow space beneath the surface that can cater to utility services like pipelines, internet cables, and water storage to mitigate flooding in the events of heavy and prolonged rainfall which makes this a climate-adaptive infrastructure.
- Applies a circular economy which is a system that optimises the use of materials and returns it to the system at the end of their useful life, thus preventing waste. It’s the opposite of the consumerist culture where materials are made, used, and then disposed to allow for the purchase of new goods (Rouse, M. 2020).
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PHOTO CREDIT: By Maksym Kozlenko – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72442428