It can sometimes feel as though we are fighting a losing battle with the war on plastics. There is so much of it in our consumer goods that even when we are good and recycle our bottles and plastic waste, it still feels like we are surrounded by the stuff. We see it littering our roads and our oceans with little sign that our efforts are paying off. But, what if instead of seeing plastic on the roads in the form of litter, we could melt all that plastic down and put it within our roads instead? While this might sound like the road of the future, it is actually a cost-effective option for many homes and town planners.
This new road is precisely what you get when you use a material called Reconophalt. As the name suggests, this is a reconstituted form of asphalt that companies can use to create plastic roads from recycled materials. This includes a lot of plastic waste but can also include glass, recycled asphalt from previous projects and ink toner. In fact, you can get as many as 50,000 plastic bags and 1200 ink cartridges in just 200 metres of road.
The result is a surface that is easy to lay and looks just like the “real” thing. This seems like the perfect way to reuse our unwanted plastic practically. Instead of burying it in landfill we can bury it in this beneficial mixture for new roads. We can turn our consumer waste into material for improved infrastructure.
Roads made of plastic have taken off in India and are now here in Australia. Several areas across the country, include some parts of Melbourne, now have a few roads made from this material. Furthermore, there are attempts to ensure that these new materials are created from waste from the area. This means that there is a low carbon footprint on the materials used for even better environmental credentials. It wouldn’t be quite the same to learn that we were importing ships full of plastic to Australia from Asia or Europe to do this.
Of course, there will be those that are a little more cynical that wonder if there is really any benefit in opting for this approach. Do you get a better road out of it? Trials for these new reconstituted asphalt roads suggest that there are practical benefits here, not just environmental ones. It is safe to drive on, easy to use and no different to the naked eye of those commuting every day. In addition to this, it seems that the use of plastic waste adds some strength to the roads so that they are more durable, able to handle heavier loads and more resistant to heat. As our summers continue to get warmer and demand on the roads increases. This can only be a good thing.
First off, you can continue your recycling knowing that you might be adding materials to brand new stretch of reconstituted asphalt road near you soon. Secondly, you could upgrade your own driveway with this material. A driveway may only be a small space but that could mean a lot of recycled plastic bottles and cartridges. Your new surface would provide greater benefits as a homeowner. You could be sure that it is more durable, so less likely to develop cracks and holes that require costly repairs. It may also mean that you don’t have to resurface your driveway as often as you did before. The addition of a plastic-based driveway may also add value to your home because of the fresh new look and the appeal to those that are green-minded.
Plastic asphalt roads aren’t the future. They are very much the present with municipalities and leading businesses embracing this chance to adopt an environmental approach. Soon, many of our own neighbourhood streets and asphalt driveways could be replaced with something a lot more green, durable and appealing.