Sustainable Plastic Road Future?
Will future roads be made from recycled plastic bottles? Netherlands based company VolkerWessels believes so.
This construction company recently presented a concept for the ‘PlasticRoad,’ with the belief that this innovation will result in quicker, more sustainable road construction.
A greener alternative to asphalt?
‘Plastic offers lots of advantages compared to current road structures, both in the construction and maintenance of it,’ said direct Rolf Mars of KWS Infra, a subsidiary of VolkerWessels responsible for the invention. Mars continues that not only are plastic roads more durable then asphalt, they can also withstand greater extremes of temperature, ranging between -40C and 80C. Furthermore, roads could be laid much more quickly than asphalt, requiring weeks rather than months for construction.
How is it made?
PlasticRoad is built with 100% recycled material, mainly plastic bottles recovered from the ocean. The plastic is processed into ‘prefab’ road sections in factory – reducing on site construction and disruption. The sections are also not only super lightweight but also functional, with a hollow structure, leaving room for cables, piping and water.
To their knowledge, this innovation is a first and they will be targeting the Dutch market first, mainly because the lightweight build up is ideal for a sand surface.
Mars admits however a major disadvantage is public perception and convincing customers of both the usefulness and necessity of the PlasticRoad. This means convincing governments at the municipal, provincial and central government levels as the public sector makes up about 99% of their work.
So far, their efforts seems to be paying off. The city of Rotterdam has already emerged as a candidate for a section of plastic road and is currently collaborating with the firm to install a test pilot. “The potential of the concept is huge,” says Mars.