Plastic Roads

Sounds interesting?
You might  have heard of different types of roads, tar road, cement road, mud road. But this one should be a news to you!

Plastic is surely a harmful thing and it is very hazardous. But for sure plastics can also be made in a useful way. One such use is to lay roads with plastic.

Chennai has one such road, laid with use of waste plastic to a graeter extent. It is the Jambulingam Street in Nungambakkam.

Dr. S. Balasubramanian, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry,University of Madras explained the process by how the plastic roads are made. He said that people continue to use plastic and production of plastic is at an ever-increasing rate, the accumulation of plastic can be made useful for this process.

This is a jist of how the plastic road is made.
The plastic waste made out of  Poly ethylene,  Poly propelene and Poly styrene) the most commonly used plastic, accounting for nearly 80% in the form of carry bags, cups and thermocole. They are softened and mixed with aggregates to find a novel method of use of waste plastics in road construction  are separated, cleaned if needed and shredded to small pieces. The aggregate is heated to a high temperature in the mini hot Mix Plant and the shredded plastic waste is added. It gets softened and coated over the aggregate. Immediately the hot Bitumen (at 160 degree Celcius) is added and mixed well.
As the polymer and the bitumen are in the molten state  they get mixed and the blend is formed at surface of the aggregate. The mixture is transferred to the road and the road is laid.
This process has been approved by Central Pollution Control Board.
To dispose the waste plastics, land filling and incineration are the two common processes used but both are not eco-friendly. They either affect the soil characteristics or pollute the atmosphere.

Dr. Balasubramanian elaborates the salient features of Plastic roads as

–  Road strength is twice stronger than normal roads

–  Less bleeding during summer;

–  Burning of plastics waste could be avoided

–  It doesn’t involve any extra machinery;

An example is the  6-year-old road on Jambulingam Street in Chennai.

The plastic roads are quite cheaper than the roads made of Bitumen and there is no water seepage in the absence of potholes, the road has a longer life; and it provides employment to self-help groups, which could be involved in collection of waste plastic. But its application in Tamil Nadu is at a snail’s pace due to lack of awareness, he added.

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