California Highway has first state road made of recycled plastic in the US
“We’re excited about introducing a new sustainable technology and helping pave the way for utilization of recycled plastics throughout the state. This process is better for the environment because it keeps plastic bottles out of landfills and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on fossil fuels."
Caltrans District 3 Director Amarjeet S. Benipal
This year the first road made of recycled plastic was completed in California. A stretch of 1 mile has been successfully replaced with recycled plastic from single-use plastic bottles. It’s estimated that it took 150,000 bottles to complete the road in Oroville.
The road has proved 2-3 times more durable than normal asphalt. The construction was brought together by TechniSoil and state transit officials. TechniSoil is paving the way of innovation in sustainability and functionality in landscaping. Their first initiative of plastic-infused asphalt was in downtown Los Angeles, and following its success led onto the larger project in California.
TechniSoil’s officials have stated that this new way of paving roads causes 90% less greenhouse gases than just using traditional practices. Normally when resurfacing a road, the top 3 - 6 inches of asphalt is removed, crushed up and mixed with bitumen. This is the black and sticky substance that is obtained through petroleum distillation - it’s residue.
By using recycled plastic bottles in the place of bitumen, the environmental consequences are eliminated. The greenhouse gasses aren’t just emitted from the distillation process but from the materials, labour and transportation to get it to the location and made into its final product.
The benefits of this new way of creating road surface include the reduction of single-use plastic ending up in landfill and polluting the environment. It also makes the top road surface more durable, therefore lasting longer and less maintenance needed, reducing the continual cycle of resurfacing with bitumen.
We’re more than aware of the effects that plastic use is having on our world. From causing more emissions for its creation to harming wildlife. Many industries have tried to incorporate recycling methods to offset their polluting practices, from clothing to cutlery, but the potential for this use is a game changer because of how it could scale.
Although it’s still a struggle to get all of humanity to recycle their plastic after they’ve used it, we still know that a vast quantity is making it to the correct locations to be disposed of healthily. If countries across the world began following in the footsteps TechniSoil have outlined we could
have a dramatic impact on reducing the plastic we currently have and inturn create safer and stronger roads.
One lane, one mile uses 150,000 plastic bottles to be resurfaced. The UK alone has 262,300 miles of road and 19.8 million plastic bottles are recycled daily. It might not even out as we continue to consume, but as more and more take a stand against not using the plastic bottle, this number reduces whilst innovative ideas start to make a dent in what waste we already have.
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