Recycled Plastic Roads in Dutch City
On average, Americans discard about 33.6 million tons of plastic each year. Only 6.5 percent of that is actually retired and only 7.7 percent is combusted in waste to energy facilities (which can create electricity or heat from garbage). And that is just America! The amount of discarded plastic is so high that there is a free floating island many people know as Trash Island.
Dutch construction company named VolkerWessels, a Dutch city, is working on a project named PlasticRoad. The goal of this project is to build roads entirely from recycled plastic. This recycled plastic can come for sources where the plastic is actually recycled, or from salvage from the ocean or incineration plants. The first project in PlasticRoad is going to be a bike path made with the materials that other roads would have. The construction of this bike path is expected to take three years.
The assembly of these plastic roads is akin to building with Legos. Sections of the road will be crafted in a factor and them assembled at the construction site. There will be grooves for traffic sensors and light poles installed in these pieces before ever leaving the factory. This design also leaves room for hollow space below the surface, which makes it much easier to lay cables and pipelines later.
Considering how much plastic is discarded every year, despite multiple movements to decease this number, the number continues to rise (or stay stead) but it never actually drops. The use of plastic in a sustainable way through the creation of roads could help decrease the amount of plastic that is discarded or even incinerated, which greatly adds to our other problem: pollution.