Will roads be made out of plastic in the future?


The materials and processes used to build roadways haven't changed much in the past century, but a Dutch company has plans to potentially revolutionize the infrastructure and clean up a lot of plastic pollution. VolkerWessels, along with two other partners, proposes plastic roads made from recycled plastics and other materials, and the idea has many benefits, according to the company.

Foremost, it helps take care of plastic waste and pollution filling oceans and landfills. That's a major plus by itself. However, the construction process is also much more environmentally friendly than asphalt, which contributes to carbon dioxide levels. Better yet, the company claims its plastic road is two-to-three times more durable than a traditional roadway, and the company says it is unaffected by corrosion and it can handle temperatures ranging from  minus 40 to 176 degrees Fahrenheit.

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The plastic roadway has other advantages. It is hollow, which allows it to take in rainwater and help keep areas from flooding. Drainage systems, pipes, and other cables could fit inside the road itself. Additionally, the plastic roads could feature heating elements to ensure the roads never freeze over to provide safer travel for drivers.

From a construction standpoint, the laying of these roads is also fairly simple. The company would assemble the plastic roadways in pieces and crews could easily swap out pieces if damage were to occur. No more messy pothole patches.

Although there are numerous benefits, an ideal construction process doesn't exist just yet. India has begun using recycled plastics for roadways, but the country also uses bitumen to bond everything together. It doesn't seem impossible that one day countries and companies will retire asphalt for a more sustainable material.

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