The world’s first plastic road opens in the Netherlands

The world’s first plastic road opens in the Netherlands

On September 11th 2018 the world’s first plastic road opened in the municipality of Zwolle in the Netherlands. The PlasticRoad project is a collaboration between industry leaders KWS, Wavin and Total and was conceived by inventors Anne Koudstaal and Simon Jorritsma of KWS.

The PlasticRoad is 30 meters long and contains the recycled plastic equivalent of more than 218,000 plastic cups. It represents a significant step forward from traditional asphalt roads to future proof plastic roads offering both performance and sustainability benefits. 

The concept was originally presented in 2016 by construction company KWS before Wavin and Total joined forces with them to develop the concept into a product with a PlasticRoad bike path in Zwolle home to Wavin’s corporate Headquarters.

Enhanced performance

The PlasticRoad is built using of modular components made from recycled plastic. It can be prebuilt and assembled in a matter of days but can also last up to three times longer than a normal road. It’s composition and structure eliminates the risk of cracks and potholes and reduces the need for maintenance. Its hollow design provides a built in solution for pipes and cables and its permeable structure not only allows excess water to drain quickly away but also helps to absorb road noise. 

A sustainable solution 

Worldwide, over 350 tons of plastics are used every year with a large proportion of this being disposed of in landfill or by incineration. The PlasticRoad creates a high-value second life for plastic waste by recycling it and using to build roads, creating a durable outlet for excess plastic waste. The PlasticRoad pilot contains a significant amount of recycled plastic but the end goal is to use 100% recycled plastic. The PlasticRoad will allow for roads to be built faster with less impact on the surroundings and less CO2 emissions. The improved drainage will also help to build resilience against heavy rainfall and reduce flooding.

What’s next for PlasticRoad?

The first PlasticRoad cycle path is a pilot and represents the first step in the journey towards more sustainable roads. It will allow the PlasticRoad partnership to test the technical and economic feasibility of this initiative. The pilot location is equipped with sensors to monitor the road’s performance – including temperature, the number of bike passages and the durability of the road. All involved agree that the future looks bright for the project and there is a great potential for it to resolve some of the issues of the future particularly as it promotes a circular economy. 
The launch of the next PlasticRoad pilot will be in Giethoorn (Overijissel), Netherlands later in the Autumn. The PlasticRoad partnership (KWS, Wavin and Total) continue to look for new locations for subsequent pilots to allow other applications to be tested and look forward to taking the design to the next level using the insights gained.

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Read about PlasticRoad in:

The Guardian

The Economist

New Civil Engineer