Plastic roads? Dutch company designs roads made of recycled bottles

Plastic roads last three times longer than asphalt roads, claim designers, and can be assembled in weeks from prefabbed sections.

Courtesy of VolkerWessels
'PlasticRoad,' a newly designed roadway made from recycled plastic, offers quiet road surfaces, modular construction, and a 'hollow' space that can be used for cables, pipes and rainwater, says VolkerWessels, a Dutch construction company.

Rotterdam is going green in a whole new way: with recycled roads.

Dutch construction company VolkerWessels recently announced a plan to build roads made entirely from recycled plastic bottles. They claim plastic roads have a lifespan triple that of asphalt roads and can easily handle temperatures from 176 degrees Fahrenheit to 40 degrees below zero.

"Plastic offers all kinds of advantages compared to current road construction," Rolf Mars, director of VolkerWessels’ roads subdivision, told the Guardian.

For instance, roads can be built in weeks instead of months by using sections prefabbed in a factory and transported wherever they are needed, says VolkerWessels. In addition, they are "virtually maintenance free," which would ease traffic by reducing the time construction crews need to block off traffic.

Unlike plastic, Mars added, asphalt is responsible for 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year and 2 percent of all road transport emissions.

The Netherlands has a long track record of supporting sustainable technology, from centuries of wind farms to the world's first "solar road," a bike path embedded with solar panels. 

"Rotterdam is a very innovative city and has embraced the idea" of plastic roads," said Mr. Mars. "It fits very well within its sustainability policy and it has said it is keen to work on a pilot."

The company hopes to produce pavement within the next three years.

"It’s still an idea on paper at the moment; the next stage is to build it and test it in a laboratory," Mars said. 

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