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Plastic roads are famous as a sustainable and cost-efficient choice to standard bitumen, concrete & asphalt roads. This new method employs recycled plastic to construct roads more durable and longer-lasting than their standard counterparts. The technology has been trialed in many countries worldwide with advantageous outcomes.
Plastic roads are being employed in place of standard asphalt roads, and research recommends that they can be durable up to three times longer than standard asphalt roads.
1. Invention of Plastic Roads
The plastic road was developed by an Indian scientist Rajagopalan Vasudevan, who was born in Tamil Nadu, India. Rajagopalan Vasudevan is known as the “Plastic Man of India”.
Rajagopalan Vasudevan has mostly committed to waste management and is presently a professor at Thiagarajar College of Engineering.
Rajagopalan Vasudevan designed this creative method of construction of roads employing plastic waste which is more useful, more durable, and very cost-effective than regular asphalt roads.
Rajagopalan Vasudevan was granted Padma Shri for this creative method of road construction by the use of plastic.
2. Advantages of Plastic Roads
Plastic roads possess various advantages when compared to standard asphalt roads. The primary benefit of plastic roads is that they are far more durable, resilient, and flexible than asphalt roads.
The advantages of plastic roads are mentioned below:
a. Costs Savings
The immediate cost savings linked with plastic roads is the cost of materials employed to construct them. Plastic roads are constructed of far fewer materials than asphalt roads and need smaller energy and resources to construct.
Plastic roads can be constructed up to 50% cheaper than standard asphalt roads and need significantly minor maintenance. Besides, plastic roads are confirmed to last more than asphalt roads, greatly decreasing future maintenance expenses.
According to the World Economic Forum, plastic roads have been proven to be three times more powerful and durable than standard asphalt. This implies they can withstand harsher weather and be more invulnerable to potholes, making them extremely durable.
Plastic roads can turn and adjust to movements in the ground due to their special construction.
The benefit of plastic permits the roads to proceed and stretch with the altering of the terrain, which assists to decrease the risk of cracking and crumbling of asphalt roads driven by the movement of the ground.
This flexibility also permits the road to be made in more compact and less wasteful shapes, outcoming a road surface that needs more negligible material and is, thus, more environmentally friendly.
Plastic roads also create employment in local communities and promote economic growth. Since plastic roads are extremely affordable to construct, local governments can employ the money saved to employ more workers and funds in the local economy.
This can be a wonderful origin of income for low-income communities, as the construction of plastic roads can deliver employment opportunities and support to promote economic growth.
Plastic roads are very much famous in recent years due to their durability and sustainability. Plastic roads are constructed employing 100% recycled plastic and can deliver a more extended lifespan than standard asphalt roads.
They need more negligible maintenance, and the plastic is unsusceptible to weathering, unlike asphalt. However, plastic roads include some potential environmental impacts that are necessary to carry.
Plastic roads are prepared from recycled plastic waste, thus decreasing the quantity of plastic waste heading into landfills. However, the production of plastic roads does require more excellent energy inputs than standard asphalt roads accomplish.
Plastic roads can filter harmful chemicals, such as phthalates, into the surrounding environment over the period. Phthalates cause reproductive and developmental problems in humans and wildlife also.
Another possible effect of plastic roads is the possibility for plastic micro-particles to penetrate the food chain. The wear and tear of vehicles make micro-particles of plastic on roads.
When these particles mix with the air and water, they can be eaten by wildlife, ultimately pushing their way into the food chain. This can have harmful effects on the environment and can actually impact human health.
Finally, plastic roads are non-biodegradable. Plastic roads can take hundreds of years to break down, making them a potential source of long-term pollution. The lifespan of plastic roads may be extended by careful maintenance, but over time they will eventually have to be disposed of or recycled.
Despite these potential drawbacks, plastic roads can still provide many environmental benefits. By combining recycled plastic with other sustainable materials, plastic roads can provide an environmentally-friendly solution for roads and pavements.
With careful consideration of the potential environmental impacts, plastic roads can be an effective way to reduce plastic waste and extend the life of our roads.
d. Carbon Footprint
The idea of a carbon footprint has evolved as a majorly obtained metric for calculating the impact of human actions on the planet.
The term “carbon footprint” guides to the quantity of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases discharged into the atmosphere due to manufacturing, transportation, and burning fossil fuels.
In the previous decades, the global carbon footprint has been growing steadily, directing to the increase in the Earth’s temperature.
Plastic roads are an adequate solution to decrease road construction and maintenance carbon footprint. The usage of plastic waste in the field of construction of roads donates to the conservation of fossil fuels, as well as to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
Pollution is a dangerous hazard to our surroundings. With the population and number of vehicles increasing, the quantity of impurities discharged into the air is growing at an alarming rate.
The problem is exacerbated by the reality that numerous of the current roads are constructed of materials that could be additionally eco-friendly such as asphalt, concrete, and even sand.
To fight this, numerous governments and private companies have started operating plastic roads as eco-friendly transportation choices.
Besides this, plastic roads can decrease road noise. Plastic roads are smoother and more comfortable to drive than asphalt ones, so they decrease the friction between tires and road surfaces. This can reduce noise levels, creating it more enjoyable to travel on plastic roads.
Finally, plastic roads are also aesthetically pleasing, which is a terrific complement to any landscape. This can donate to the beauty of a location while still delivering a safe and efficient way to transport people, goods, and services.
3. Country That Uses Plastic Roads
Here is the list of countries that implemented plastic roads in their city mentioned below:
Chennai was the first city to globally employ the technology in a great form when the municipality designated 1000 km of plastic roads in 2004 A.D.
The foremost plastic road in Tamil Nadu was spread down in Kambainallur, a Panchayat Town of the Dharmapuri district as per the policies of the then Chief Minister.
Since then all central municipalities in India have tested this technology like Pune, Mumbai, Surat, Indore, Delhi, Lucknow, etc.
b. United Kingdom
In January 2019, the Department for Transport announced a £1.6 million UK trial of a plastic road technology developed by MacRebur, an asphalt enhancement company based in Scotland.
In December 2021, A 1-km distance of Islamabad’s Ataturk Avenue was completely rerouted with plastic.
The project was a cooperation between Capital Development Authority and Coca-Cola Company Pakistan. It employed 10 tonnes of plastic bottle waste combined with asphalt.
4. Disadvantages of Plastic Roads
The disadvantages of plastic roads are as follows:
a. Harmful gases are released during the construction of roads.
b. After the construction of plastic roads, it has been discovered that the first rain will result in leaching, and the sticky layer is formed over the surface.
c. The constituents of the Plastic road once it has been applied cannot be inert.
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