When we hear stats like “8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the world’s oceans each year” and “The UN environment agency estimates that up to 5 trillion single-use bags are consumed worldwide each year”, it is easy to feel that the problem with plastic is an insurmountable one and we (the concerned consumers) are getting nowhere.
However, there are some really exciting projects out there that attempt to tackle the waste mountain and although relatively small scale at present there is no reason why they can’t be considered globally.
For instance, in Ghana they have undertaken a study on how recycled plastic can be added to asphalt mixtures in a bid to get rid of some of the 3 million kg of trash produced daily in the city of Accra alone and to help improve the countries many pothole ridden roads. This has already been taken up in India where in the Kerala municipality at least 10% of new roads must contain plastic. According to Amole Bale, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University, including plastic in road paving mixtures makes roads twice as strong as normal roads.
That is brilliant news, so why are we not using recycled plastic in asphalt in the UK? I don’t know the answer so I have emailed Highways England, which looks after our roads for the Department for Transport, to ask them. I will post the reply when it arrives!