Asphalt roads with recycled plastic tested in Los Angeles

A fairly interesting experiment in terms of plastic recycling will be carried out in Los Angeles. The local authorities have in fact decided to renovate a street in the city center but the route will not be paved normally. The road pavement, in fact, will be partly made up of plastic recycled from everyday objects, especially plastic bottles.

This is a procedure that, as Sean Weaver, president of TechniSoil Industrial states, the company that will put this strange idea into practice, will spread more and more in the future because the newly produced synthetic binders used during the transformation process “will transform the global market of road construction or road restructuring.” This is a sort of Holy Grail with regard to construction and road restructuring: with this method it is possible to 100% recycle the material of the road surface to rearrange it with the same ground material, crushed and put back in place.

The system uses recycled PET plastic which substantially replaces the bitumen that is produced by refining oil. The plastic collected from the recycling will be ground into a sort of oil that will replace the bitumen. Through a particular machine, it is possible to grind the first centimeters of the surface of a road, collect the material and send it to a section of the machine that crushes it and mix it with liquid plastic. This is all done with a single-vehicle that crosses the road only once.

In the past, such an idea had already been put into practice, but until now it had only been possible to recycle the lower strata of the road because the upper strata could not be characterized by the same resistance as normal asphalt. With this new method, however, as the company itself expects, road surfaces can last 8 to 13 times longer than roads with standard asphalt.

Keith Mozee, one of the road service managers of the area where this “experiment” will be run, speaks of an “exciting and sustainable” technology if implemented on a large scale. Faced with the doubts of some environmentalists that the plastic used to create the surface of the road could infiltrate the lower areas and therefore penetrate even waterways, the same company ensures that several tests have shown that the method represents an alternative safe and this further test on a real and busy road will almost definitively demonstrate the feasibility of such a project.

By Bob Miller

Bob was Professor of Behavioural Neuroscience at the University of Denver from 2011-2018 and now works as a practicing psychiatrist. As a passionate scientist, he founded the website in early 2019 with the goal of delivering accurate and useful scientific reporting, and has since built it up as a valuable publication. While his field is in psychology, Bob also has a strong general understanding of many other fields in health, astronomy and applied science, and is able to write in a way that is easily understandable to the layman.

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