Monday, July 27, 2015

Plastic Roads

by Anton Antonio
July 23, 2015

The “X” and “Y” Generations may no longer be aware of this seemingly trivial fact but bottled soda cases and pallets used to be made of wood.  Now, like so many other usable items, they are made of plastic.

“Plastic is a material consisting of any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organics that are malleable and can be molded into solid objects of diverse shapes.  Plastics are typically organic polymers of high molecular mass, but they often contain substances,  They are usually synthetic, most commonly derived from petrochemicals, but many are partially natural.  Plasticity is the general property of all materials that are able to irreversibly deform without breaking, but this occurs to such a degree with this class of moldable polymers that their name is an emphasis on this ability.  Due to their relatively low cost, ease of manufacture, versatility, and imperviousness to water, plastics are used in an enormous and expanding range of products, from paper clips to spaceships.  They have already displaced many traditional materials, such as wood, stone, horn and bone, leather, paper, metal, glass, and ceramic, in most of their former uses.  The success and dominance of plastics starting in the early 20th century led to environmental concerns regarding its slow decomposition rate after being discarded as trash due to its composition of very large molecules.  Toward the end of the century, one approach to this problem was met with wide efforts toward recycling.”  (Wikipedia)

The City of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, will be the first city to use plastic roads.  These roads are made from 100% recycled plastic and can withstand extreme temperatures between -40 to 80 degrees Centigrade and are supposed to last three times longer than normal roads using traditional materials like cement and asphalt.  Best of all, the actual time to construct plastic roads is a lot shorter than traditional methods of road construction.

The biggest opposition to plastic products is their biodegradability since it takes more than 50 years for plastic to dissolve.  For roads, however, biodegradability is not an issue… in fact, it is an application that needs to last as long as possible.

Collecting discarded plastic waste products and processing them into inputs for road construction application may yet be a plausible solution to our solid waste management woes.  Thanks to the invention of plastic roads.

Just my little thoughts…

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Wikipedia. “Plastic”.  Retrieved on July 23, 2015 from

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