The Plastic Bridges of Rotterdam
Rotterdam is known for its canals, bikes and traditional wooden bridges for pedestrians and cyclists. Due to their age however, many of these existing wooden bridges are in poor condition and need to be replaced. And for their replacements, the city is turning to plastic.
Fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP), a very lightweight plastic, offers numerous material advantages. Firstly, due in part to its lightweight nature, it is possible to install a new bridge in approximately an hour, as compared to around three weeks for a steel or wooden bridge. And while the material lifespan of a wooden bridge is around 25-30 years, a bridge from a plastic composite such as this has a material lifespan of close to 100 years and unlike steel, plastic doesn’t rust. Further to this, plastic takes around half as much energy to produce as compared to steel and there are there are now numerous possibilities to introduce plant-based resins, making for a biobased bridge options.
The first plastic bridge was installed in Rotterdam in 2009 with plastic materials from FiberCore Europe. The company has gone on to manufacture 90 different plastic bridges around the city, with the most recent being unveiled in January.