Why Are Roads Going to Be Made Out of Plastic?
A company appropriately named PlasticRoad is looking at the possibility of using plastic materials instead of asphalt for new roads for the Netherlands and soon the world.
The Netherlands is known for being on of the most environmentally friendly European countries. According to the European Environment Agency, The Netherlands recycles more than half of its waste. So it isn't surprising that the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands has teamed up with the company VolkerWessels to create prototypes for plastic roads that will further benefit the environment.
To create the plastic roads the company proposes gathering waste plastic from the sea and then grinding it up into a coarse aggregate. The aggregate would then be quickly melted and moulded into a road form that includes spaces in the middle for pipes and electrical cables that ordinarily placed under roadways.
While designing the road, the company considered structural integrity of the road since they recognized that a roadway supports hundreds to thousands of cars each day, and undergoes seasonal changes.
So to ensure that the road can withstand the seasonal changes, the company has tested the plastic and claims that it can withstand temperatures between -40 degrees Celsius and 80 degrees Celsius (-40 degrees Fahrenheit to 176 degrees Fahrenheit). Unlike asphalt, plastic is also resistant to corrosion and weather damage.
One of the most unique features of the plastic road (aside from the fact that it's made of plastic) is that this road style can be prefabricated in a factory and then transported to the site to be finished. This will ultimately speed up the construction time of roads and reduce the number of road blockades that are up during construction.
While the plans for the plastic road in the Netherlands seem promising, testing of the road for when there are wet and/or slippery conditions is still needing to be completed among multiple other tests. So it may be years before the material is replacing traditional tar and asphalt roads but it is getting engineers to reconsider how to lay roads and pull them up quickly.