A blog set out to explore, archive & relate plastic pollution happening world-wide, while learning about on-going efforts and solutions to help break free of our addiction to single-use plastics & sharing this awareness with a community of clean water lovers everywhere!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Imagine If Our Highways Were Paved in Plastic

Imagine If Our Highways Were Paved in Plastic
Image credit: VolkerWessels
If you drive a car, then you've invariably experienced the insanity and frustration that potholes can cause. Roads made of asphalt aren't perfect. They crack and crumble. The longer they go without repairs the more damage they inflict on our cars (and insurance policies).

One construction company in the Netherlands thinks it has the solution: roads made of recycled plastic from the ocean. Scientists at construction firm VolkerWessels are collaborating with the city of Rotterdam in Holland to build prototypes of these pre-frabricated strips of road called PlasticRoad.

The benefits of pre-fab roads made of recycled plastic, as VolkerWessels sees them:
  • Built in a fraction of the construction time (weeks, not months)
  • Virtually maintenance free
  • Can withstand greater extremes in temperature (-40 degrees F to nearly 180 degree F)
  • They have three times the expected lifespan of traditional asphalt
  • Have a lightweight design, meaning roadways could more easily be moved or adjusted

PlasticRoad would also have a hollow space that can be used for cables, pipes and rainwater, VolkerWessels says. Check it out:

Image Credit: VolkerWessels
The next step in the prototype phase is to test it in a laboratory to make sure it’s safe in wet and slippery conditions, VolkerWessels says. If all goes well, the company hopes to lay the first fully recycled roadway sometime within three years,  Rolf Mars, the director of VolkerWessels’ roads subdivision, KWS Infra, said in a recent interview with The Guardian.

One can only imagine how much more quiet rubber tires on plastic roads would be than on asphalt. And, sayonara potholes. Good riddance.

Plastic roads may seem more well suited for toy cars, but a Dutch is aiming to take the toy track to the test track. VolkerWessels announced last week that it was working on plans to bring the world’s first plastic road to the Netherlands. The PlasticRoad project is still entirely conceptual, and the company is looking for partners to collaborate with. However, VolkerWessels has highly ambitious plans for PlasticRoad with claims that the project would revolutionize roads.
The company has said that the recycled plastic would be more durable, require less maintenance and be more resistant to the elements – the road is said to be able to handle temperatures between about -40F and 176F. The company has yet to start testing, but it said it expects the lifespan of PlastRoads to be at least 50 years based on the lifespans of similarly used plastic products for sewage pipes and plastic platforms.
“Plastic offers all kinds of advantages compared to current road construction, both in laying the roads and maintenance,” VolkerWessels’ director of roads subdivision KWS Infra Rolf Mars said.
The roads, which would be hollow for cables, pipes and rainwater, would also feature modular construction with a lightweight design to make construction easier. Individual sections could simply be made in the factory before being shipped for assembly. The company claims PlasticRoads could “be built in weeks instead of months.”
VolkerWessels is also claiming that the PlasticRoads would be more environmentally friendly than the traditional aggregates paving the road. As it is, asphalt causes 1.6 million tons of carbon emissions each year. 100 percent of the plastic used to create PlasticRoads would come from the the eight billion kilograms of plastic trash floating around the ocean – plastic trash that is normally burned, further damaging the environment. Additionally, all of the PlasticRoads can be recycled for use on a new road once their expiration date has passed.
When the project is ready for testing in approximately three years, the Dutch city of Rotterdam has already volunteered to help run the test trial on the city’s “street lab.”
“As far as I know we’re the first in the world [to try this],” Mars said. “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. Rotterdam is a very innovative city and has embraced the idea. It fits very well within its sustainability policy and it has said it is keen to work on a pilot.”
- See more at: http://www.aggman.com/is-plastic-the-new-pavement-netherland-company-plans-for-road-surface-made-of-recycled-plastic/#sthash.3aaHNBqR.dpuf

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