When we think of recycled plastic, our first thought usually doesn’t include using it as viable road construction material. But a team from VolkerWessels, a road construction firm in the Netherlands has taken this sustainable material and created the first prototype of such a road.
One of the advantages to this material is that it is much more durable than traditional gravel and pavement. It also offers a way to recycle the material to help initiatives like The Ocean Cleanup. By implementing the use of the 100-percent recycled plastic, roads can be built much faster and be guaranteed to last longer.
Virtually maintenance-free, this alternative holds up better against the elements and can handle temperatures ranging from -40 degrees to 176 degrees Farenheit. The company believes that the plastic road can expand the life of roadways by up to three times as long as traditional roads, which will cut down on the cost of maintenance. With less maintenance needed, traffic jams and detours will also be reduced.
The road itself will feature a hollow space underneath, which can house cables, pipes, and even retain water. Because plastic is a relatively easy material to work with, construction of a plastic road would take weeks instead of months.
This type of innovation could be used to the benefit of the U.S. roads, as many are in need of significant repairs or upgrades. Repair funds are running thin, and this inexpensive alternative may be a great solution to this issue.