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Netherlands Builds the First Road Made from 100% Plastic

Plastic Road Blog Header

Three industry giants are joining forces to make the PlasticRoad, a road made of 100% recycled plastic from the ocean, becomes a reality. KWS, in collaboration with Wavin and Total combined their knowledge, experience, and resources to build the first road made from 100% recycled plastic

The ‘cycle’ path to the PlasticRoad

The first pilot project will be a 30-meter-long cycle path made of hollow prefabricated elements enabling water drainage and laying down of cables and pipes. The PlasticRoad partners KWS, Wavin and Total have worked extensively on the development and testing of the concept to validate and optimize performance such as the load bearing capacity of the modular elements, the appropriate blends of recycled plastic and the three-dimensional design of the road itself. In addition, research focused on the reduced environmental impact has been carried out. The positive results achieved to date support moving forward to make the first pilot project reality.

After an extensive period of design, testing and development, we are delighted that the PlasticRoad is becoming a reality. Together with the municipality of Zwolle and the province of Overijssel, we as PlasticRoad partners are taking steps towards a more sustainable world with this first PlasticRoad cycle path.
Anne Koudstaal and Simon Jorritsma , inventors of the PlasticRoad and KWS employees
The brainchild

The PlasticRoad concept was conceived by VolkerWessels’ enterprise, KWS, the largest road construction company in the Netherlands. After observing the road network build and maintenance related issues faced by urban areas the idea of a road made from 100% recycled plastic waste from the ocean made

Plastic-Road-Concept Image

 complete sense. To accomplish this sustainable feat and develop a PlasticRoad prototype, three industry giants (KWS, Wavin and Total) have joined forces. Wavin, who is a world leader in recycled plastic pipe systems, along with oil and gas company Total, provide the perfect combination of knowledge, expertise and experience to align with KWS in this ground-breaking endeavour.
Why the PlasticRoad ?

A few facts….

  • Around 8 million metric tonnes end up in the oceans each year
  • 54% of plastic is still incinerated or dumped into landfills today
  • only 14% of plastic waste is currently recycled

(Ellen MacArthur fondation: The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics)

With the PlasticRoad, we will bring plastic waste back into the chain, thus reducing the environmental impacts of building and maintaining a road. The concept of PlasticRoad is completely in sync with environmental initiatives like Cradle to Cradle (C2C) and The Ocean Cleanup. Plastic from the ocean is recycled and made into prefabricated road parts that can be installed in one piece – making the installation easy, quick and lightweight. It also alleviate the continuous issues linked to asphalt and paved roads: erosion, weeds, potholes, surface flooding, surface heating, noise.

The PlasticRoad is:

  • prefabricated with hollow space for drainage pipes, cabling and flood water attenuation
  • 70% faster to install than traditional road surfaces
  • expected to last 3 times longer than traditional paved roads
  • half the construction cost

There are an estimated 40 million kilometres of road worldwide (Science Advances: Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made). The potential of the recycling and re-use of plastic in roads is huge.

This is a really solid way of reusing plastic.

Katinka Von Der Lippe , INDEX Award Jury Member and Strategic Designer & Manager at Eker Design Hydrolift

Next steps for the PlasticRoad

Wavin is excited to be an integral part of this project and delighted to be working alongside KWS and Total. We will certainly keep you posted with the results of the installation.

In the UK, we are leading the debate on what the future of drainage could be, as we know that more can be done to tackle urban drainage and flood issues. Wavin recently developed three concepts with a team of graduate engineers. Watch the concepts they came up with:

Here’s to a greener future for road technology and urban drainage management!
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