Recycled plastic bottles could find new use as a durable road surface

Recycled plastics could replace asphalt on future roads

Dutch-based construction company VolkerWessels has come up with an idea that may have our city streets paved with recycled plastic bottles, which could be a solution for a sustainable city.

Lasting up to three times longer than a traditional road surface, PlasticRoad is made of a 100 per cent recycled material and needs less maintenance and city costs. PlasticRoads can also cope more easily with a range of temperatures (-40�C to 80�C) and is a quieter surface for vehicles, with less protuberances, thus improving the overall driving experience.

The city of Rotterdam, Netherlands, has shown interest and may trial PlasticRoad, which is described as being a greener alternative to asphalt.

VolkerWessels unveiled plans for the PlasticRoad earlier in July, and if accepted by Rotterdam City Council as their new way of paving, this could be a revolution in roadways, leading the way for more sustainable, eco-friendly alternatives, like solar panelled roads to reduce electricity emissions.

PlasticRoad is quick and cheap to produce and could be laid in a matter of weeks, rather than months, which is the normal timescale for conventional asphalt. Each section of the PlasticRoad has a hollow space under the surface for cables and pipes and individual sections can be manufactured in a factory and taken to the desired location, lessening on-site construction and congestion.

According to VolkerWessels, asphalt creates 1.6m tons of CO2 emissions a year globally, which is two per cent of all road transport emissions.

Speaking to the Guardian, Rolf Mars, the director of VolkerWessels’ roads subdivision, KWS Infra, commented: “Plastic offers all kinds of advantages compared to current road construction, both in laying the roads and maintenance.”

Mars added that the project was not yet concrete, saying: “It’s still an idea on paper at the moment; the next stage is to build it and test it in a laboratory to make sure it’s safe in wet and slippery conditions and so on.

“We’re looking for partners who want to collaborate on a pilot – as well as manufacturers in the plastics industry, we’re thinking of the recycling sector, universities and other knowledge institutions.”

VolkerWessels will allegedly be laying the first PlasticRoads within the next three years if all goes to plan.

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