Plastic waste - the new asphalt mix for roads | Sunday Observer

Plastic waste - the new asphalt mix for roads

Layering a strip of road with the new material between Ratmalana and Borupana
Layering a strip of road with the new material between Ratmalana and Borupana

The Asset Group of Companies is using a new technology to incorporate plastic waste to produce asphalt for road surfacing.

Manufactured by mixing shredded plastic with aggregates, and bitumen – the new asphalt mix is said to provide a number of benefits including an innovative and viable solution to address the rapidly rising plastic menace in the country as well as bringing a significant cost reduction in road paving.The new material was tested via a pilot project, where a strip of road spanning 500 meters (Pilot section -300m and Control section - 200m) from Ratmalana to Borupana, was paved with the new asphalt. Prior to applying this Asphalt mix on the pilot stretch, laboratary tests were conducted to verify its performance and properties.

The company collects and sorts non-recyclable plastic bags from municipal waste. These are then cleaned, shredded to a permissible size and mixed with aggregates at 165° C temperature, within the asphalt batching chamber. The molten waste-plastic-mix coats the heated aggregates before being coated with bitumen. The new material – waste plastic modified asphalt concrete mix – will be applied for surfacing of roads under 150° C temperature. Similar waste plastic modified asphalt mixes are successfully applied to road surfacing in countries such as UK, Canada, Netherlands, Philippines, India and Indonesia.

India, under the approval of Indian Roads Congress, has applied a similar technology on approximately 3,000 km of its roads.

The idea of applying waste plastic as an additive for road surfacing in Sri Lanka was hatched by the Asset Group to combat the rapidly growing issue of plastic pollution.

Asset Group’s new asphalt mix will not only address the plastic issue plaguing the country, but also help to greatly reduce the cost of road construction by making the asphalt pavements more durable.

At present, the technology has already become an internationally accepted practice, and by adopting the same in Sri Lanka, Asset Group believes that it would make a significant impact in the road construction sector, while becoming a catalyst for environmental sustainability in the long run.