Materials Mobility

346: Prefabricated Plastic Road


Bottles take close to 500 years to decompose in landfills, and some plastic items last almost twice as long unless they can be recycled


Recycle plastic into repaved roads

In 2001, Rajagopalan Vasudevan, an Indian chemistry professor, recognised plastic’s binding qualities and pioneered a plastic-bitumen road-laying technique across India. He thought up the idea of shredding plastic waste, mixing it with bitumen and using the polymerized mix in road construction.

Since 2010, Sean Somers Weaver and a team at TechniSoil in Redding, California have been developing this solution to repair Los Angeles roads. With their G5 binder, they can recycle 100% of the existing road in place, and approximately 150,000 plastic bottles per lane mile. The end result is a completely new category of plastic pavement that lasts at least 2 – 3 times longer than traditional asphalt pavement. The company collaborated with the University of Nevada, Reno.

Using a modification of a Cold In-Place Recycling process, the equipment train mills the existing roadway, crushes and sizes the RAP (Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement), and mixes the RAP with the G5 Binder. The recycled mixture is immediately paved back onto the road and compacted with a vibratory roller. Traffic can return within hours.

While in Los Angeles, the Bureau of Street Services, or StreetsLA, has tested samples TechniSoil in parking lots and smaller streets in Oroville, other cities and states such as Texas, Oregon and Colorado have expressed interest in TechniSoil’s pavement technology,

TechniSoil uses approximately 2,300kg of recycled PET plastic per 1.5km two-way road, which equates to around 395,000 plastic bottles, but CEO Sean Weaver hopes to double this content by 2022.

Besides TechniSoil, there is Dow Chemical, which has worked with local governments across Indonesia, India, and Thailand since 2017; and Scottish company MacRebur, which makes road products that replace part of the bitumen with waste plastic crumbs.

In The Netherlands, Wavin, a Dutch maker of plastic pipes, has announced that after 18 months of testing, including the construction of two 30m-long PlasticRoad roads in Zwolle and Giethoorn to the east of Amsterdam, it will begin production of its modular plastic road technology early 2021.
The test roads were fitted with sensors to monitor how well they dealt with heavy vehicles such as garbage trucks and other heavy traffic.

Discover Solution 347: PV-SÜD

Support 366solutions on Patreon and receive the ‘366solutions Insider Newsletter’ with updates on the monthly progress and successes of published solutions.

Leave a comment

Translate »