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Plastic Roads – A Solution for Romania’s Infrastructure Mess?

In a few days, millions of romanians will hit the road for the short holiday over the long ‘Easter & 1 Mai’ weekend.

It’s not hard to predict that the country’s road-infrastructure will collapse with countless traffic jams and dozens of accidents. The notorious bad shape of romanian roads will most likely get the blame, although I personally would add the reckless and risk-unaware driving style of many romanians.

And  – if it’s not raining all day long – it’s also a given, that after thousands of barbecues or ‘gratars’ on May 1st and 2nd, the forests of Romania will be once again littered with millions of empty pet-bottles.

I have no solution how to teach the aggressive drivers in Romania to calm down, other than telling them, that when you walk through my hometown Zurich – a global financial center of a certain size – you rarely hear a driver pressing the horn and you experience a certain calmness in traffic through a well-balanced behavior between drivers, bikers, public transport and pedestrians.

But with regard to the bad road-infrastructure and the littering of parks and forests, there could be a solution that kills two birds with one stone: Better roads and a much more meaningful use of empty pet-bottles than to pollute the local forests:

In Holland exists a pilot project for the construction of roads via pre-fabricated modular elements made from plastic materials. ‘PlasticRoads‘ is promoted by Rotterdam-based construction services company VolkerWessels.

The new surface currently undergoes a series of tests. If successful, the Dutch plan to introduce the new technology in 2018.

According to the promoters, one of the main advantages of plastic roads is their low cost, at the same time, the new technology should make roads to last 30-40% longer in comparison with modern asphalt constructions, the roads would be almost maintenance-free and on top of it, the construction of plastic roads is predicted to be 2-3 times faster than with conventional construction methods.

‘PlasticRoad’ – which consists of 100% recycled material, could be a sustainable alternative to conventional road. Another surplus:

the roads should be unaffected by corrosion and the weather, the structure is said to handle temperatures as low as -40 degrees and as high as 80 degrees Celsius and it’s also more resistant to chemical corrosion.

Estimations predict that the lifespan of roads will be tripled. That would mean less road maintenance and less to zero traffic jams and detours. All in all – this would result in a whole new driving-experience in Romania.

Roads made out of recycled plastic – is this really a revolutionary and feasible idea or just a marketing-gag? I’m no engineer, so I have to let others to judge about the technical details and the practical problems in construction and maintenance that could occur.

But Romania at least could study the project to see how cost-effective it really would be and – regardless of the feasibility – implement a countrywide and strict pet-recycling-system to preserve nature.

But a short video says more than thousand words, that’s why it’s best to see (and judge) for yourself:

http://youtu.be/70-Jnw1CgT0

More info about ‘Plastic Roads’ is available via www.kws.nl/dynamics/modules/SFIL0200/view.php?fil_Id=8659

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There could be a better use for empty pet-bottles than littering – recycle them and build roads.

plastic roads

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