Roads can be made from recycled plastic and aggregates. Most asphalt roads are made with aggregate and bitumen, but recycled plastic can replace the bitumen, thus reducing construction costs, producing better quality roads, and removing plastic from landfills.So, let’s get down to the hard facts and discuss how we can use recycled plastic to make better, more eco-friendly roads across the world. I’ll also tell you all about the potential drawbacks to recycled roads.
Some Countries and Cities Already Have Recycled Plastic RoadsRecycled plastic roads are a relatively new invention, but they’ve seen success all over the world. Engineers in India were the first to develop recycled plastic roads. In India, (15,000,000 kg) of plastic are produced daily, most of which hasn’t been recycled. In the early 2000s, Dr. Rajagopalan Vasudevan, an engineering and chemistry professor, developed the first recycled plastic roads. By , the Indian government made it mandatory for all engineers and construction workers to use plastic on most roads and highways in India. Starting in 2019, many , including Ghana, South Africa, Australia, the Netherlands, and the United States, took the lead from India and began designing and installing recycled plastic roads. These roads have seen tons of success and have fueled the new global engineering trend of building more durable, longer-lasting, recycled roads. You can find most of these roads in residential areas and bike paths. However, the technology behind recycled roads is still relatively new, and there isn’t much evidence on how long these roads will last in the long term. Because of this lack of evidence, most governments outside of India haven’t started using plastic roads for main roads or highways. Still, many engineers hope that, as the recycled streets see more use in neighborhoods and on bike paths, they’ll get more support from the government.
Recycled Plastic Roads Are Made From Aggregate and PlasticMost asphalt roads contain 90 to 95% aggregate. The aggregate gives the road bulk, and it’s usually made of natural materials such as sand, gravel, and limestone. These organic materials are essential for durable roads and paths, and luckily, they’re all-natural. makes up the rest of the road. Bitumen is a black tar that’s extracted from distilled petroleum or fossil fuels. This sticky liquid or resin-like solid glues a road together, and since bitumen is an oil, it also repels water. In addition, it is flexible, which can prevent cracking and breakage in streets made using bitumen. While bitumen is a crucial component for road construction, it isn’t environmentally friendly. In fact, it is one of the of air pollution in cities. However, we have discovered a new substitute that could cut down on waste in our landfills and oceans. Because bitumen is a petroleum-based material, it’s also plastic. Plastics are made when petroleum is heated up. When moderately hot temperatures are applied to petroleum, a chemical reaction occurs. In this reaction, the molecules in the petroleum bond together, resulting in a durable, waterproof material – plastic. However, since bitumen is a type of resin and plastic, pre-used and recycled plastics can replace this tar, reducing the number of raw fossil fuels necessary to make and repair roads.
Recycled Plastic Is Cheaper Than BitumenRecycled plastic isn’t cheaper than fresh bitumen in two ways:
- The material itself is cheaper.
- The long-term cost of recycled plastic road maintenance is cheaper than maintenance of traditional bitumen roads.