As my interest in taking plastic out of the ocean and using it to build durable, cheap and necessary infrastructure increases, it is always fun to read stories about initiatives that are looking to do just that.
A company in the Netherlands is using recycled plastic to build roads.
Plastic roads are made up of prefabricated, modular, hollow blocks. Therefore construction and maintenance are both quicker and cheaper, because a damaged area can simply be removed and replaced. Plastic roads are also supposed to last 3 times longer than conventional roads.
In terms of sustainability, I am both optimistic, and suspicious. Plastic roads would have a much smaller carbon footprint. They can be customized to combat urban heat island effects. Most importantly the concept is circular where damaged sections of road can be removed and refashioned into new blocks. My concern is the erosion of the plastic. Tires have recently been reported as a major source of microplastics in the ocean (IUCN, 2917). If these plastic roads breakup into tiny pieces that are difficult to monitor and nearly impossible to clean up we might only be exacerbating the problem.
The first pilot project is scheduled for later this year in Rotterdam.
Read The Guardian article here
Read more about the partnership here