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  • Writer's pictureInfrastructure Exchange

South Africa's plastic road - construction begins

South Africa's Kouga Municipality, in conjunction with Scottish company MacRebur and South African engineers, have begun construction of the first plastic road in South Africa.

It is anticipated that the project will reduce maintenance costs in the long run in addition to addressing the issue of an excessive supply of plastic materials.

It is said that the roads will last longer than traditional tar/bitumen roads. The road surface in Kouga will be made up of recycles plastic which has been broken down into pellets. Further, the new surface will make it harder for potholes to form.

Says Vicky Knoetze, a member of the Eastern Cape Legislature: “Non-recyclable plastic waste, which ends up in the ocean or clogging up landfill sites, will be processed into pellets and used to replace a large component of the bitumen in a conventional asphalt mix.

Roads made from recycled plastic materials will last three times longer, with less upkeep required. and will eliminate tons of plastic from landfills.

The concept

Toby McCartney, CEO of MacRebur, first notice locals in Southern India utilising plastic materials as “pothole fillers” by placing plastic waste into potholes and set it alight.

MacRebur’s technology allows bitumen to be extended with recycled plastic materials, thus reducing the amount of fossil fuel used.

According to McCartney,“We can do this because we are turning the plastic into its original oil-based state and binding it to the stone with the help of our activator. It’s therefore not a case of burying rubbish in our roads. In fact, at the end of their life, our roads can be recycled. We use the plastic waste over and over again.”

“With each km of road laid using our MR products, we use up the equivalent weight of 684,000 bottles. Or 1.8m one-time use plastic bags. We use 150,000 tonnes of asphalt in Cumbria annually. If just ten% of the asphalt used in Cumbria alone was made using MacRebur, 800 tonnes of plastic waste would be required. That’s more than 500 tonnes of plastic household waste the council collects in Cumbria each year.”

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