Specialising in civil engineering, the Dutch Volker Wessels Company is currently developing a new type of road surfacing made from recycled materials.
The company dreams of replacing the kilometres of asphalt found in cities by a surface still under study, called "Plastic Road". As its name suggests, these roads would be made entirely from plastic waste.
According to its designers, the surface's life expectancy would be three times that of asphalted roads. This longevity is achievable thanks to the use of plastic, which can withstand temperature variations (-40° to + 80°C), as well as the effects of the sun's rays. With an estimated 50-year lifespan, the plastic roads would be less affected by corrosion and would require less maintenance. The road sections would be prefabricated in a factory and could be assembled together much like a giant game of Lego®. Building new roads would only take "a few weeks instead of a few months" according to the company's website, making road works much less costly as a result. The roads could also be designed to be hollow, allowing cables, pipes, optical fibres or various sensors to be installed under their surface.
According to VolkerWessels' Project Manager Rolf Mars, "plastics offer all sorts of advantages over current road construction methods, both in terms of installation and maintenance".
Rotterdam, the Dutch city in which the company is based, has already offered its support to the project and offered to test this innovation on its roads. "Rotterdam is a very innovative city and it has embraced the idea" said Rolf Mars: "this is in line with its sustainable development policy and the city is eager to work on a pilot project with us".
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