As reported by Cape Town Etc, the project will reduce maintenance costs in the long run. In addition, it will be a positive use of the countries excessive supply of plastic materials.
Kouga Municipality collaborated with South Africans engineers. They will also work with MacRebur, a Scottish company, to kickstart the groundbreaking project in the Eastern Cape.
Kouga Mayor Horatio Hendricks said in a statement that the backlog for road repairs in the region exceeds R500m. It has an impact on the financially-strong district. He explains:
“We simply do not have the rates-base to deal with this backlog decisively. The DA-led Kouga Council has, therefore, been looking for innovative ways to slay this giant since taking power in the municipality in 2016.”
Environmentally and economically sustainable
The plastic roads are said to last longer than traditional tar roads. It will be made from recycled plastic materials broken down into pellets. MacRebur already tested the viability of plastic roads in the United Kingdom.
It will, however, be the first road of its kind in South Africa. DA MPL Vicky Knoetze confirmed potholes would be a thing of the past. She explained that “water won’t be able to seep through as easily.”
In addition, roads made from recycled plastic materials will last three times longer with less upkeep required. She explained that about 1.5 tons of plastic will be used for a kilometre of road. That means it will eliminate tons of plastic from landfills.
Hendricks said they are excited about the benefits of the project. The state of roads have a devastating impact on the surrounding communities and economy. He adds:
“It’s not only a danger to motorists; it is also bad for the economy as it scares off potential investors and makes it difficult for existing businesses to ply their trade.”
The project will be launched on a trial basis in the Eastern Cape. If successful, it will be the starting point for the rest of South Africa to follow suit. It will also give us an opportunity to take responsibility for our excessive use of plastics.
Plastic roads – How it works
MacRebur CEO Toby McCartney was working in Southern India on landfill sites. He noticed how locals use plastic materials as “pothole fillers”. They place it in potholes and set it alight.
He explains that asphalt is made of bitumen and stone. With MacRebur’s groundbreaking technology, bitumen can be extended with recycled plastic materials. This in turn reduces the amount of fossil fuel used.
“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.”
The company said they are “environmentalists first, not a road company” so, running out of plastic waste is their goal. Enhancing roads while eliminating plastic is just a bonus.
The numbers are impressive, too.
“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 per cent 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.”
Watch: Can plastic roads help save the planet?
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