A road in Jeffreys Bay is set to be paved with good intentions and recycled plastic, in a first for SA and the continent. The 1 km stretch will use up to the equivalent weight of 1.8 million one-time-use plastic bags or 684 000 bottles to enhance the asphalt that makes up the road’s surface, as reported by Construction Review.

‘Non-recyclable plastic waste, which ends up in the ocean or clogging up landfill sites, will be processed into pellets and used to replace a large component of the bitumen in a conventional asphalt mix,’ says Vicky Knoetze, member of the Eastern Cape provincial legislature. She adds that the road will be stronger, more durable and less penetrable by water (read: fewer potholes).

The trial project is being undertaken by Port Elizabeth-based civil engineering and construction companies in collaboration with Scottish firm MacRebur. The solution, according to MacRebur’s website, involves ‘processing waste plastics destined for landfill or incineration and adding them into asphalt for road construction and surfacing to extend and enhance the bitumen (fossil fuel) binder’.

If the trial is successful, the municipality will consider building a factory to recycle and produce plastic pellets locally. ‘Poor roads have a devastating impact on communities,’ says Kouga Municipality mayor Horatio Hendricks. ‘It’s not only a danger to motorists; it is also bad for the economy as it scares off potential investors and makes it difficult for existing businesses to ply their trade.’

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