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Alternatives to asphalt concrete

  • by JW

District Council trials bitmac in Budleigh car park: incorporating non-recyclable plastics into the resurfacing mix.

But there are issues about microplastic pollution.


Interest in ‘plastic roads’ is increasing:

Futures Forum: Plastic roads

With one particular company making the running with this new technology:

MacRebur |

And the District Council is going to trial this in Budleigh tomorrow:

#EDDCengineers will be trialling a new #ecofriendly surfacing material at Rolle Mews car park #budleighsalterton! The new bitmac surface incorporates non-recyclable plastics into the binder to improve the properties of the material while also reducing the amount of fossil fuel-based products that are used in its manufacture. This project will see 600kg of plastic, the equivalent of 48,000 plastic bottles used in this revolutionary material and a reduction of 580kg or #carbon emissions when compared to conventional asphalt. To allow for these works, the #carpark will be closed between Monday 24th and Friday 28th February for these resurfacing works.
#sustainability #Devon #civilengineering #construction @macrebur

East Devon District Council and 21 February at 01:21

The comments on the council’s Facebook page are cautiously welcome: “Well done EDDC for making the effort to sort problems while thinking of the planet.”

However, there are concerns about nanoparticles of plastic – as outlined in this piece in the Guardian from four years ago and in India where it was first used:

Plastic roads: India’s radical plan to bury its garbage beneath the streets

In India, roads made from shredded plastic are proving a popular solution to tackling waste and extreme weather

Jambulingam Street, Chennai, is a local legend. The tar road in the bustling Nungambakkam area has weathered a major flood, several monsoons, recurring heat waves and a steady stream of cars, trucks and auto rickshaws without showing the usual signs of wear and tear. Built in 2002, it has not developed the mosaic of cracks, potholes or craters that typically make their appearance after it rains. Holding the road together is an unremarkable material: a cheap, polymer glue made from shredded waste plastic. 

The reintroduction of plastics into the environment is not entirely without consequence. Old roads or poorly built ones are likely to shed plastic fragments into the soil and eventually waterways when they deteriorate as a result of photodegradation, which causes plastics to break down when exposed to environmental factors such as light and heat.

These minute plastic particles called microplastics act like magnets for pollutants like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and can have an impact on their surroundings. “Once in the soil, these particles may persist, accumulate, and eventually reach levels that can affect the functioning and biodiversity of the soil,” writes Matthias C Rillig, a professor of plant and soil ecology at Freie Universität Berlin.

Plastic roads: India’s radical plan to bury its garbage beneath the streets |

We just need to stop using so much plastic of course – and trying to ‘recycle’ it is not actually taking it out of the system:

Where exactly is our ‘recycled’ plastic ending up?

Futures Forum: The plastics industry is “incredibly supportive of recycling legislation over a more long-term… reduction of disposable culture.”

On the other hand, we need to be reducing our use of asphalt – made up of tar (which is oil) and concrete (which is one of the biggest users of carbon in production):

Futures Forum: Climate change and concrete: “the massive CO2 emitter”

Futures Forum: How sustainable is the construction industry? … ‘Concrete is responsible for 7-10% of CO2 emissions’ … ‘The industry must shift its emphasis beyond recycling and towards reuse’

Plastic roads are made entirely of plastic or of composites of plastic with other materials. Plastic roads are different from standard roads in the respect that standard roads are made from asphalt concrete, which consists of mineral aggregates and asphalt.

Plastic roads |