Recycled plastic roads ready for the market
PlasticRoad, a road-building system made out of recycled plastic, is ready for commercialization. One and a half year-long testing on cycling paths in the Dutch towns of Zwolle and Giethoorn has shown the material and construction can take heavy loads and are durable. From 2021, the company will produce on an industrial scale.
The system offers several ecological advantages. Every 30 meters of PlasticRoad recycles about a ton of plastic waste, the equivalent of 218 000 plastic cups. It should last two to three times longer. This means a reduction of 50% to 70% CO2 compared to traditional asphalt or concrete roads, according to its makers.
Moreover, the hollow space below the road surface can store excess water, avoiding flooding. The system then slowly releases the water into the ground, adding to the soil’s water reserve.
From bikes to cars
PlasticRoad was designed in 2016 and made by Dutch company KWS, a subsidiary of VolkerWessels, a major building company based in The Netherlands. For this project, KWS joined forces with plastic pipe producer Wavin and petrochemical giant Total.
As a modular system, PlasticRoad consists of prefabricated blocks, that can be quickly and easily installed to form a road surface. Installation requires less heavy machinery than traditional roads. Each module is made up out of a hollow, recycled plastic structure, and a draining road surface. The hollow structure can store water during heavy rainfall, keeping the road dry. Besides that, it also provides space for cables.
The next project is testing a parking lot, using the same construction. This is a step to taking the system from cycling paths to car use. Other possibilities are sidewalks and school playgrounds. In the first instance, KWS is focusing on the Dutch market and that of surrounding countries. Worldwide commercialization will follow.