Netherlands soon to have roads made out of recycled plastic bottles

Netherlands envisages to pave its road with the recycled plastic bottles instead of traditional asphalt roads.

Plastic waste is producing a huge threat to the environment and in the present scenario, plastic waste is being down cycled into lawn chairs and plastic lumbers. However, there are some long term limitations to this, such as petro based plastics are difficult to recycle and re-use effectively and this would just add to the already growing pile of plastic.

VolkerWessels, a Dutch construction firm, however have found some better idea to reuse plastic and they have proposed to use recycled plastic bottles to construct the roadbeds in the Rotterdam city of Netherlands. This could be the apt answer to recycle plastic.

Traditionally, roads are made up of asphalt, which is made up of a mixture of recycled materials such as blast furnace slag, glass and tyres. Hence, asphalt generation leads to emission of large amount of carbon dioxide which is estimated to be around 27 kilograms for every tonne of asphalt produced, further it absorbs heat which results in serious urban health consequences.

Its high time that these asphalt road surfaces are replaced with an economical, social as well as environmental friendly alternative.

Here, VolkerWessels comes into picture which claims that using recycled plastics to construct roads is much greener option when compared to traditional asphalt. The have named the project as ‘PlasticRoad’.

Design Advantages and other benefits of using “Recycled Plastic roads” as proposed by VolkerWessels:

  • The Plastic roads would be much lighter
  • The individual plastic road tiles could be constructed off site, say in a factory and in advance, thus it would reduce the overall construction time required to build the road and in turn reduce traffic disruptions due to road works
  • It would last for longer time
  • Overall maintenance is expected to be much lesser
  • Plastic can withstand greater temperature extremities, between -40°C (-40°F) and 80°C (176°F).
  • The roads would be hollow thus leaving ample space for power and utility cables
  • Could be the best answer to put an end to the crumbling and neglected roads which later turn into potholes
  • In case, if any section of the plastic road gets damaged, it could be easily removed and replaced, as these roads would be made by plastic blocks which would stick together like Lego bricks.

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

Mars further said that the idea of PlasticRoad has huge potential for future developments. He said: “As far as I know we’re the first in the world [to try this].”

VolkerWessels, have chosen the Dutch city, Rotterdam for its pilot scheme of the ‘PlasticRoad’. So far the idea is under conceptual stages, however the company claims that the material which they use would be environment friendly and the first plastic roads would be ready in the next three years.

VolkerWessels also added that it would take them just few weeks to build the plastic roads which is much faster in comparison to the months required to build the traditional asphalt roads.

Thus, Rotterdam would be the world’s first city to have roads made up of plastic.

As per Jaap Peters, an official from the city council’s engineering bureau, it seems Rotterdam is pretty concerned about greener building practices and hence VolkerWessels chose Rotterdam city for its pioneer project.

Peters added: “We’re very positive towards the developments around PlasticRoad.”

He added: “Rotterdam is a city that is open to experiments and innovative adaptations in practice. We have a “street lab” available where innovations like this can be tested.”

According to Mars, there is enormous potential in the idea of plastic roads, he added: “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.”

He added: “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.”

Readers what do you think about this project, do you think it is the craziest thing to use re-cycled plastic bottles instead of asphalt road or you think this is an innovative step towards a better, friendlier and greener environment. Do let us know your views in the comments section.

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