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We’re on a road to ingenuity

arizona asphalt beautiful blue sky
Adding recycled plastic to asphalt mixtures can make roads twice as strong. Photo by Nextvoyage on Pexels.com

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 folk on planet Earth) 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 both, their ever-increasing plastic waste and 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 the new roads twice as strong as normal roads.

This is brilliant news, so why are we not using recycled plastic in asphalt in the UK? I don’t know the answer to that, 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!