Recycled Plastic Roads A New Road towards Creating a Complete Value Cycle for Plastics
Publish On 04, Jan 2019 | Recycled Plastic Roads A New Road towards Creating a Complete Value Cycle for Plastics
Each year, there is about 1.5 million tons of mismanaged plastic waste in Thailand. Striving to sustainably maximize the value of plastic throughout its entire life cycle from production and consumption to recovery in accordance with the concept of circular economy, Chemicals Business, SCG has partnered up with Dow Thailand Group to construct “Recycled Plastic Roads,” which incorporate asphalt and “Plastic Waste.”
What is a Recycled Plastic Road?
- Asphalt roads are traditionally made with an asphalt mix, composed of dust stone, crushed stone, and asphalt cement, which is then sprayed on top of a compacted surface.
- Recycled plastics are incorporated into the aggregate. This improves the efficiency of the road as well as creates a valuable end of life for plastic waste and an alternative to landfill or incinerators.
- As Dow Chemical constructed recycled plastic roads in India and Indonesia earlier, Chemicals Business, SCG and Dow Thailand Group have partnered up to carry out a similar project in Thailand.
Given the geographic differences between India or Indonesia and Thailand, the temperatures on and under the road surface would also be different. To apply this innovation successfully to Thailand, therefore, SCG’s researchers conducted experiments to determine the material composition that would enhance the strength of the asphalt mix and make it suitable for applications in Thailand.
According to a study conducted by the Civil Engineering Department, the Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University, the recycled plastic road is 15-30% stronger and provides 6% increased traction when compared to the regular asphalt road. Therefore, in addition to reducing plastic waste, this innovation can give a more valuable end of life to plastic and improve the quality of asphalt roads.
Prototype for Recycled Plastic Roads
Constructed with a technological collaboration between SCG and Dow Chemical, the recycled plastic road in the RIL Industrial Estate in Rayong is considered a model project for maximizing the useful life of plastics as advocated in a circular economy. The project began with a plastic waste sorting program at Chemicals Business, SCG and communities in Rayong, in which plastic and thermal bags were shredded and mixed into the asphalt used to pave the road. Measuring 220 meters in length, 3 meters in width, and 6 centimeters in thickness, the prototype road creates value for plastics that are not generally reused or recycled appropriately and brings sustainability to communities, society, and the business.
The Future of Recycled Plastic Roads
Recycled plastic roads covering 2,600 square meters will be constructed in a pilot project in Amata City Industrial Estate and are expected to require around 1.3 tons of plastic waste, an equivalent of 100,000 plastic bags would otherwise go to landfill or become marine debris.
Through an innovation that brings new purposes to plastic waste as well as the collaboration between the government, business, and the public sector, this pilot project will help drive a circular economy and contribute to the first smart city in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), which will serve as a model and lead to the construction of more recycled plastic roads in other areas.
RECYCLED PLASTIC ROAD: The Collaboration between SCG and Dow Thailand Group
With its experience and expertise in constructing recycled plastic roads in other countries, Dow Thailand Group has partnered with SCG to develop a recycled plastic road construction technology that is suitable for Thailand. By mixing plastic waste into the asphalt, the resulting material can increase the lifespan of the road as well as create value for plastic waste that would otherwise end up in landfills or the ocean.
The Benefits of Mixing Plastic Waste into Asphalt for Road Construction
1. Increased road durability
2. Increased resistance to water erosion
3. Reduced asphalt consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from asphalt production
4. Reduced plastic waste and related environmental problems, and increased value of plastics
The Test Results by the Department of Civil Engineering, the Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University
- The study tested the dry process mixture of asphalt concrete and plastics.
- The results showed 15-30% increased Marshall Stability , while the other properties (such as density and resistance) remained unchanged compared to regular asphalt concrete.
“A circular economy is an approach to sustainable development that places emphasis on maximizing resource usefulness and consuming resources only as necessary. Making it a reality requires cooperation from all sectors, including the government, businesses, and the public. This collaboration with Amata and Dow will mark an auspicious beginning for fostering a network of cooperation and lead to a successful construction of recycled plastic roads in Amata City Chonburi. This partnership will also bring about more such projects and create another sustainable approach to plastic waste reduction.”
Vice President – Polyolefin and Vinyl of Chemicals Business, SCG