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Plastic Roads- A Revolutionary Idea

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by - 12/18/2015 10944 Views

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The innovative idea of laying roads using plastic scrap is not a new concept. Recent research in this field has shown some hope in terms of using plastic-waste in road construction, this could practically reduce the landfills. Plastic roads mainly use plastic carry-bags, disposable cups and PET bottles that are collected from garbage dumps as an important ingredient of the construction material. When mixed with hot bitumen, plastics melt to form an oily coat over the aggregate and the mixture is laid on the road surface like a normal tar road.

What kind of plastic waste can be used?

The plastic scrap material used for this purpose is a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic amorphous solids used in the manufacture of industrial products. Plastics are typically polymers of high molecular mass and may contain other substances to improve performance and/or reduce costs. Monomers of plastic are either natural or synthetic organic compounds.

Discarded thin-plastic carry-bags are a menace. These thin plastic carry bags within the town often clog drains, cause flooding, choke animals that eat them and are unsightly strewn across fields, they block germination and prevent rainwater absorption by soil. Recycling plastic by melting releases fumes, and is only possible 3-4 times. Toxic contents might leach into recycled water pots or water-pipes. Shredded plastic is a great additive for tar roads.

How are the plastic roads laid?

The roads laid by using plastic scrap are popularly referred to as “Plastic Roads”. They are found to perform better compared to those constructed with conventional bitumen. The Indian Centre for Plastics in the Environment (ICPE) has been promoting the use of plastic waste to construct asphalt roads. A few trial roads have been paved successfully by combining waste plastic with bitumen. Plastic roads mainly use plastic carry bags, disposable cups and bottles that are collected from garbage dumps as an important ingredient of the construction material. When mixed with hot bitumen, plastics melt to form an oily coat over the aggregate and the mixture is laid on the road surface like a normal tar road.

Why are plastic roads suggested?

The disposal of plastic scrap is a major problem as plastic is non-biodegradable. Burning of discarded waste plastic scrap causes environmental pollution. These thin plastic mainly consists of low-density polyethylene. To find its utility in bituminous mixes for road construction, laboratory performance studies were conducted which proved that waste plastic enhances the property of the mix.

Advantages of using plastic scrap in making roads:

These roads would be strong with increased Marshall Stability Value.  There would be better resistance towards rain water and there would be no stagnation. One would not find stripping and no potholes. The presence of plastic & bitumen mix would increase binding and better bonding of the mix. There would be reduction in pores in aggregate and hence less rutting and raveling.  There would be no effect of radiation like UV. The strength of the road is increased by 100%.  The load withstanding property increases. It helps to satisfy today’s need of increased road transport. For a stretch of 1km X 3.75m road, 1 ton of plastic (10 lakh carry bags) is used and 1 ton of bitumen is saved. In this process there is value addition to the waste plastics (cost per kilogram increases from Rs 4 to Rs12). The cost of road construction is also decreased. The maintenance cost of road is almost negligible.

Disposal of after use plastic scrap will no longer be a problem. The use of waste plastics on the road has helped to provide better place for burying the plastic waste without causing disposal problem. The scope for employment for unskilled laborers will be generated.

Today, plastic waste treatment is a challenge to the environment as most of the plastic is burnt resulting in toxic gases being released in the environment. By effectively managing the collection, separation and processing of plastic waste, the environmental damages can be limited by eliminating the waste from our streets. We can have international standard roads and pavements which are litter free. Here are economies and advantages which would accrue to various communities if the plastic road project is implemented on a wide scale.


Households and other units wrap all garbage into plastic bags and dispose them. The non-biodegradable plastic bags acts like a covering on the garbage preventing it from being converted into compost. At present only 20% of the MSW is converted into compost. This can be considerably increased to 80-85% and more by systematically managing the plastic waste.


One of the foremost areas that would directly benefit is agriculture. At present only 20% of MSW is converted into compost. This can be converted to 80-85% once the plastic from the MSW is segregated. Farmers can directly purchase from MSWM if plastic separated.

Benefits National Economy:

When life of a road is doubled, then the savings that accrue to the national exchequer are in thousands of crores. Segregating the plastic from the MSW at the municipal yard involves application of resources, the cost of which runs into crores of rupees. A substantial amount of this can be saved.

The Central Government’s annual allocation of funds towards roads and highways is approx. 35 thousand crores. Lab tests and real time tests have revealed that the life expectancy of a plastic polymer road as compared to a normal road is at least 100% more In addition to the savings accrued at the central level, every state Municipal Solid Waste Management would save crores of rupees by eliminating the plastic segregation process at its yards.

Disadvantages of plastic roads:

Cleaning process- Toxics present in the co-mingled plastic waste would start leaching. During the road laying process- in the presence of chlorine will definitely release noxious HCL gas.

After the road laying- It is opined that the first rain will trigger leaching. As the plastics will merely form a sticky layer, (mechanical abrasion).The components of the road, once it has been laid, are not inert.


The generation of waste plastics is increasing day by day. The major polymers, namely  polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene show adhesion property in their molten state. Plastics will increase the melting point of the bitumen. Hence the use of waste plastics for pavement is one of the best methods for easy disposal of waste plastics.

The use of the innovative technology not only strengthens the road construction but also increases the road life as well as creating a source of income. Plastic roads would be a boon for India’s hot and extremely humid climate, where temperatures frequently cross 50°C and torrential rains create havoc, leaving most of the roads with big potholes. It is hoped that in near future we will have strong, durable and eco-friendly roads which will relieve the earth from all type of plastic-waste.  

Category : Plastic

Tags : Plastic Scrap, Plastic Scrap Benefits, Plastic Scrap Roads, Plastic Scrap Price, Plastic Scrap Market Trend

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About Georgy Abraham

As the bright morning of 28th May dawned in the year 1972, in the fulfillment of time according to the plan & will of Almighty Godbrought me forth into this world and I was brought up & educated in Orissa. My parents provided me with the best of education in an English medium school with high standa .... more info


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