Holland-based firm VolkerWessels has recently introduced plans to start building roads out of recycled plastic instead of asphalt. According to them, this would reduce construction costs and maintenance time, as well as prolong the lifespan of roads. Given that plastic waste is very damaging to the environment, and that the process of building traditional, asphalt roads creates quite a few harmful effects, this could well be a very sensible step forward toward a more sustainable world.
According to VolkerWessels there are quite a few benefits of constructing roads out of plastic. They maintain that such roads could withstand extreme temperatures better than asphalt roads. More specifically, plastic roads could withstand temperatures as low as -104° F (-40° C) and as high as 176° F (80° C). Corrosion would also be less of a problem, while the company maintains that plastic roads would last three times as long as asphalt ones. Road maintenance would also be greatly reduced.
Plastic road sections could be manufactured off site and then installed on sand in larger pieces, which would reduced the build time from months to weeks, according to the company. Plastic is also lighter, which would enable better control over road stiffness and water drainage. These type of roads would also have a hollow space within them, which could cater to a variety of secondary purposes, such as running cables and pipes through them, or housing traffic loop sensors.
Using recycled plastic to build roads would also greatly offset the carbon emissions created by asphalt production. Also, plastic roads would lend themselves better to infrastructure advances such as power generation and heating roads to melt the ice and snow.
PlasticRoad, as the idea is called, is still in the concept stage, though VolkerWessels is currently looking for investors and partners to build the first prototype to test the idea in practice. The first plastic road will most likely be laid in Rotterdam, Holland.