Dutch company KWS Infra has signed a cooperation agreement with processor Wavin and resin supplier Total to develop roads manufactured from plastics as a sustainable alternative to traditional asphalt roads.
The intent is to utilise post-consumer recycled polyolefins (polyethylene and polypropylene) mainly sourced from packaging and industrial applications. Processing techniques will include, but not be limited to, injection moulding and extrusion.
First introduced in 2015 by KWS, the PlasticRoad concept entails recycling plastic waste into lightweight modules with hollow interiors that can be fitted with cables and plastic pipes and allow excess water to drain.
The pre-fabricated units will be easy to transport, assemble and maintain, and the lighter weight means the ground will be less prone to subsidence.
The concept brings numerous benefits compared with conventional roads. Service life is typically extended by a factor of two to three, for example. Construction time, meanwhile, is reduced by 70%, and the structure is four times lighter than a traditional road structure.
A smaller ecological footprint
The overarching objective is to create a road with a smaller ecological footprint than traditional road systems. When the elements reach their end of life expectancy they can be recycled again, contributing to a circular economy and cleaner environment.
Anne Koudstaal and Simon Jorritsma, the inventors of PlasticRoad, stated: “Together with Wavin and Total, we now have a vast pool of knowledge, experience and resources, and can take concrete steps in the development of PlasticRoad. We expect to have a first prototype completed by year-end 2017.”
KWS Director, Rolf Mars, added: “Wavin and Total believe in the PlasticRoad concept and I have every confidence in a constructive and successful collaboration.”
Jan Willem Viets, Director of Wavin Nederland, explained: “Being part of the development of PlasticRoad fits in the strategy of Wavin to provide innovative plastic solutions for the building industry. This is a great chance to develop a new way of road building together with other market leaders in this business.”
Xavier Bontemps, Senior Vice President for Total’s Polymers Business Unit, declared: “We are delighted to be working on this promising flagship project and to share our expertise in polymer solutions and recycling processes. This agreement is aligned with our commitment to using renewable and recycled sources and reducing the carbon footprint for the markets we serve.”