VolkerWessels, a construction company based in Holland has submitted a new proposal to lay plastic roads made out of recycled materials.
If it was to go ahead, the project would be the world’s first infrastructure to use plastic as a material for road surfaces. Rotterdam’s city council is currently considering the proposal – named PlasticRoad – which includes building roads and cycle lanes out of post-consumer plastic.
It’s thought that the new plans would significantly reduce the effect of carbon emissions, as well as having a number of other benefits.
Recycled plastic would require less maintenance than the current go-to choice of asphalt. It can also withstand extreme temperatures – from 80°C to -40°C so would be a useful choice for many countries across the world. In addition to this, because the material is hollow, it would make it easier when installing underground pipes and cables.
There are also additional ecological benefits to the innovative new plastic roads. VolkerWessels stated that adopting the proposal could help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide which is emitted around the world every year.
The effect that this trial – if successful – could have on the plastic industry is unlimited. It could be a beacon of light for plastic-packaging producers in the food and drinks industry – especially as consumers are increasingly more focussed on companies reducing the amount of plastic packaging they use due to the high percentage pollution in the world’s oceans.
It’s not the first time that a Dutch company has been the forefront of a recycling revolution. Rotterdam has a reputation for being a world leader in environmental innovations – one group of engineers attempted to build a man-made island made entirely of plastic, and there is already a cycle land in Amsterdam which helps to generate power.
Rolf Mars, the director of VolkerWessels’ KWS Infra division spoke to The Guardian this week, saying, “As far as I know we’re the first in the world [to do this]. 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.”
If the project does get the green light, it’s thought it would take at least three years to implement, so there is still a way to go yet. However, Jaap Peters, a spokesman for Rotterdam City Council says, “We’re very positive towards developments around PlasticRoad. Rotterdam is a city that is open to experiments and innovative adaptations in practice.”
TH Plastics supplies a range of plastic granulators and will be actively looking forward to seeing how this project takes off.