The Dutch city of Rotterdam may soon be the first to have roads made of recycled plastic waste fished out of world oceans. The city is collaborating with the construction firm VolkerWessels to devise a plan to revolutionize road systems with modular plastic panels that snap together.
Not only is the proposed design eco-friendly because it repurposes plastic waste that clogs the seas into something useful, but replacing traditional asphalt also has environmental benefits. The Guardian reports that asphalt production accounts for 1.6m tons of global CO2 emissions per year, or 2 percent of all road transport emissions. Plastic roads are not a completely new idea, as Indian chemistry professor Rajagopalan Vasudevan has developed a method for turning recycled plastic into asphalt. But this only solves a portion of the problem.
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VolkerWessels’ roads would consist of an easy snap-together design, much like Legos, which could be easily accessed for repairs. The roads could also be moved around to different locations, an unprecedented innovation that is especially perfect for the Netherlands’ sandy or swampy terrain. Inside the prefabricated bricks would be a hollow space, creating opportunity for easily accessible infrastructure. While the development is still years away, it is exciting to know such creative approaches are being taken to address solutions to widespread environmental destruction.
Images via VolkerWessels