Plastic roads also offer several benefits. These roads have better durability compared to traditional asphalt concrete roads, they can withstand water better, have smoother surfaces, develop lesser cracks and potholes which means lesser maintenance costs. The environmental benefits are an add-on to this.
To construct a single lane road stretch of 1 kilometer, 10 tonnes of bitumen is used. In a plastic road, this composition can be altered to 9 tonnes of bitumen and 1 tonne of plastic. So, on an average, 1 tonne plastic consisting of more than 10 lakh (1 million) waste plastic bags can be consumed in a single kilometre. Considering that the world has millions of kilometres of roads, imagine the amount of plastic waste that can be re-used or recycled for surfacing or building new roads.
Road construction provides a solution to the problem of plastic waste. Of the 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic produced over the last 70 years, less than 10% has been recycled. That proportion can go up dramatically, with the use of discarded and waste plastic in road construction. India generates about 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day, only 7,000-9,000 tonnes is recycled. To increase the recycling rates, in 2015, the central government made the use of plastic waste in road construction mandatory — shredded waste plastic is mixed with bitumen at high temperatures. Not all plastic can be used, the guidelines list plastic film (carry bags, cups), hard foam, soft foam and laminated plastics (packaging for biscuits, chocolates and chips). Several Indian cities such as Pune, Indore, Surat, Chennai — are already constructing roads using the plastic-bitumen mix. These roads are longer lasting, and do not develop cracks and potholes, which account for one-tenth of the road deaths in the country. Depending on the quality of tar, plastic waste can replace 10-30% of conventional material.
The issues highlighted above throw light on the urgent needs for re-examining and formulating new guidelines/specification with regard to design and construction of concrete roads in India. The issues raised become more pertinent in the context of the large scale construction of cement concrete roads at the anvil. Feedback from the various construction agencies and from research and development fraternity can lead to meaningful contribution in solving many issues at stake in the field of design and construction of concrete roads in India. The polymer coated aggregate bitumen mix forms better material for flexible pavement construction as the mix shows higher Marshall Stability value and suitable Marshall Coefficient. Hence the use of waste plastics for flexible pavement is one of the best methods for easy disposal of waste plastics.Plastic roads would be a boon for india’s hot and extremely humid climate where durable and eco-friendly roads which will relieve the earth from plastic waste. As the population increases, the solid waste also increases proportionally. The best alternative is the usage of waste as construction material assuring a good disposal. As this method is economic the practice would be on satisfactory extent aiding the future generations for a good solid waste management
Studies show plastic waste can last three times more than usual materials used for roads today. They produce lower transportation and labor costs. Moreover, they reduce flooding and incidences of potholes.
ADVANTAGES OF PLASTIC ROADS :
- A light weight pre fabricated construction
- Faster construction and less maintenance time
- Higher quality and loger life span
- Little to no maintenance required .The material is virtually impervious to conditions such as the weather and weeds
- The innovation is considerably more sustainable
- The goal is to make plastic road out of 100% recycled plastic and to make it fully reusable . It is perfectly in line with the cradle to cradle philosophy and the principles of the circular economy
- Double use of space . The hollow space in the design can be used to store water or as a space for cables and pipes
- The possibility of constant safety and water drainage
- Everything on and around the road can be prefabricated
- The concept offers opportunities for further innovation .Examples include solar heated roads, light poles, traffic loop sensors
- Contibution to the social problem of plastic waste