The City of Vancouver has set the lofty goal of becoming the greenest city in the world by 2020 and, judging by their latest green innovation, they are thinking outside of the box to get there. To help up their green quotient, Vancouver has started paving its streets with recycled plastic. The city teamed up with GreenMantra of Toronto to melt together old plastic and asphalt to create a paving mixture that is much better for the environment than traditional asphalt.
Traditional asphalt requires extremely high temperatures to allow it to flow easily, but by mixing in a recycled plastic binder, the asphalt flows at a much lower temperature, requiring up to 20-percent less fuel to produce. City engineer Peter Judd estimates that this could translate into a reduction of 300 tons of greenhouse gases per year. Using the plastic binder also reduces the amount of vapors released into the air when the asphalt is laid.
The process costs about 1 to 3-percent more than traditional asphalt paving, but as the supply increases, costs are expected to drop. The environmentally friendly paving doesn’t look any different than traditional paving, and the city is currently testing the mixture before deploying it citywide.