Introducing the Plastic Road
The Netherlands, where the streets could soon be paved with…plastic?
It’s not as crazy as it sounds! Rotterdam is among the first to consider plastic roads as a green solution to old fashioned asphalt – as well as plastic waste.
Dutch consortium VolkerWessels has developed the PlasticRoad, which they claim would require less maintenance, could withstand a greater range of temperatures, and would be faster to lay down…among other benefits. The roads would be constructed of prefabricated modular slabs that could be snapped together like a child’s toy to form the extended roadway. These tiles would also be hollow, allowing room for pipes, cables, or water runoff channels. Because these sections of road would be light and easily installed, road construction would be much less expensive with new plastic roads. Using new plastic formulas also opens up numerous possibilities, such as solar heated roads, or photoluminescent road markings.
VolkerWessels plans to construct their new roads exclusively out of recycled plastic, with designers pointing to floating “garbage islands” in our oceans as a key source for materials. Along with the estimated 17.6 billion pounds of plastic in littering our waters, we still incinerate over 50% of our plastic waste. This plastic could also be utilized in the construction of new roads to fix infrastructure problems word-wide. As sections of the road wear out they could be easily recycled to make new roads.
While these roads would be durable, temperature and weed resistant, and able to stand up to harsh weather there are still problems to solve. Questions have been raised about their ability to resist fire, as well as handle wet or slippery conditions for example.
The manufacturers hope to perfect their concept with the construction of bike paths and other smaller scale projects. Rotterdam’s city council is also intrigued by the idea, and has offered to install VolkerWessel’s PlasticRoad for a trial basis.
Hopefully with a little real world testing these roads can be perfected and installed in more and more places around the world sooner than later!