Plastic waste is one of the biggest environmental concerns of our time, with millions of tons of plastic ending up in landfills and oceans every year.
The lifecycle of plastic is cyclic, and not in the good way. The plastic we use and discard eventually makes its way back into our homes and bodies in the form of microplastics. Ending up in our drinking water and food supply. It's a sobering reality that underscores the need for innovative solutions to address plastic waste and its impact on the environment and human health.
What if we could turn this plastic waste into something useful?
As concern grows over the impact of plastic waste on our planet, the question of how we can reduce our reliance on this material has been on the forefront of many minds. Some scientists and regulators are exploring a promising solution: plastic roads.
What Are Plastic Roads?
Plastic Roads. The latest innovation in the ongoing fight against plastic waste.
But what exactly are they? In short, plastic roads are roads made from a mixture of recycled plastic materials and traditional asphalt. The process involves shredding hard-to-recycle plastic waste such as printer cartridges, and plastic bags, and then mixing them with hot bitumen to create a modified asphalt mix. This mixture is then used to lay the road surface.
The aim of plastic roads is to provide a solution to plastic waste and to build sustainable infrastructure by reutilizing plastic that is difficult to recycle in a cost-effective manner.
How is it going?
Pilot programs are currently underway in various states, including Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, and Hawai'i, to test the durability and effectiveness of these plastic roads.
To name a few:
- In Hawai'i, a stretch of road is currently being tested with a recycled polymer mixture that contains the equivalent of 150,000 water bottles.
- In Virginia, plastic is being tested in six different road stretches around Richmond.
- Pennsylvania is testing two quarter-mile road stretches using a mixture that contains 150,000 plastic bags.
What are the risks?
How realistic is it to continue relying on plastic, given the many proven issues associated with it? As of this moment, I don't have the answer to this question. What we do know is that as a part of the pilot program, transportation regulators continue to monitor the performance and durability of the roads, while environmental regulators monitor for any potential contamination from microplastics.
All initial reports so far have shown positive results, with no evidence of microplastic pollutant runoffs and the road performing better than expected. Potentially providing a cost-effective solution to building roads and an earth friendly way to reduce the amount of plastic waste entering landfills and oceans.
Although plastic roads show promising results, it is still too early to predict all potential issues that may arise in the future. As with any innovation, time will tell.
Consider incorporating plastic-free everyday solutions into your lifestyle to make a positive impact on the environment.
Looking for more ways to reduce your plastic footprint? There are so many amazing plastic-free alternatives out there, such as toothpaste bits that are not only better for you than traditional toothpaste but comes in refillable eco-friendly glass or aluminum containers, and more plastic free alternatives coming on the market all the time.
Toothpaste bits are just the beginning - there are so many exciting plastic-free alternatives out there! Have you tried shampoo bars, refillable cleaning products, or biodegradable phone cases? These are just a few examples of the many options available today. By choosing plastic-free alternatives, you're not only reducing waste, but also supporting companies that are committed to sustainability and innovation.
Let's make conscious choices together and create a better future for our planet!