Will Roads Made of Recycled Plastic Be the Future?

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By: Katie O’Brien
Earlier this week Dutch Construction Company, VolkerWessels, announced in partnership with the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, their plan to replace roadways using recycled plastic in as soon as three years. While it is still in the conceptual phase, there is a possibility that plastic can be the future of building materials for streets.
There are many benefits for the new plastic design. The design, known as PlasticRoad, is greener, stronger, easier to maintain, and less vulnerable to temperature extremes than asphalt. It will also help reduce our carbon footprint. According to Science Alert, the process of creating asphalt produces 1.45 million tons of global carbon dioxide emissions yearly. Switching to recycled plastic to “pave” roadways can greatly reduce our green house gas emissions.
PlasticRoad can also have a large impact on traffic patterns. Since the road can be constructed in an off- site location and easily delivered, there will be much less time needed to install the new infrastructure. This will result in less traffic, as installing and maintaining it will take significantly less time. The roadway is also designed to be hollow to allow for utility cables to be installed. Future plans are to develop integrated heating within the roadways to help melt snow during snowstorms, resulting in safer roads and less potholes. The hollow center can also be used as a rainwater displacement system, potentially keeping roads drier.
There is still a long way to go before PlasticRoad is implemented. There are a slew of tests that must deem the roadway safe to drive on. Prototypes are going to begin being created once VolkerWessels finds more partners in the project. This can be a game changer for plastic waste. Currently the United States alone generated more than 33 million tons of plastic waste in 2013, of that, only 9% of it was recycled. Recycled plastic roadways can make a big difference in our landfills. While it is still “just an idea on paper”, PlasticRoad can change the way we construct our roadways for the better.

For more information visit: http://en.volkerwessels.com/en/projects/detail/plasticroad

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