WT Skip Hire

Plastic Roads: Are They The Future?

Posted on: September 18, 2015

At WT Skip Hire we are always on the lookout for innovative recycling schemes which help to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill. Our attention was therefore well and truly grabbed this week when we read a story in the Guardian, which suggested that the Netherlands could become the first country in the world to produce roads using recycled plastic.

It is estimated that there is eight billion tons of waste plastic currently floating in our oceans and 55% of plastic waste in the Netherlands is incinerated. To help counter this, Rotterdam City Council is believed to be interested in creating a pilot scheme which will see road surfaces replaced with a plastic alternative. Its creators believe that the new surface is far greener that existing asphalt coverings. 

Did You Know? 1.6 million tons of CO2 emissions are generated globally every year as a result of asphalt. That is approximately 2% of all emissions from road transport.

Creating Plastic Roads

The plans, originally unveiled by construction firm VolkerWessels in July, would see the creation of a road surface which is entirely produced from plastic. They argue that this surface would offer a number of benefits, including:
  • It would require less maintenance than an asphalt surface
  • It would be capable of withstanding far greater temperature extremes of between -40oC and 90C
  • The roads could be laid in just a few weeks – far quicker than the months it can take to prepare an asphalt road
  • The plastic roads could last as much as three times longer than an asphalt road
In addition to that, the new roads would also be far lighter – helping to reduce the load on the ground. They would also be hollow, allowing plumbing, drainage and utility companies a far easier method of installing cables and pipework below the surface.

“It’s still an idea on paper at the moment; the next stage is to build it and test it in a laboratory to make sure it’s safe in wet and slippery conditions and so on…Rotterdam is a very innovative city and has embraced the idea. It fits well within its sustainability policy and it has said it is keen to work on a pilot.” – Rolf Mars, Director of VolkerWessels’ roads subdivision.

Despite being one of the smallest countries in Europe, the Netherlands actually has one of the highest carbon footprints. Much of this comes from the use of fossil fuels and the production of cement. Given that the Netherlands has more than 135,000km of tarmacked roads, these plans could help to dramatically reduce their impact on the environment. 

Motorway in sunset