Circular economy

Himalayas: eco-roads made with plastic waste

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Bhutan to build roads made of PET: this would allow to reduce landfill waste and bitumen imports.

From waste abandoned by careless hikers to a resource able to offer those same hikers well-paved paths across the peaks of Himalayas. This is the challenge taken on by Bhutan: the idea is to use plastic waste to build new roads with the Green Road project, which aims at promoting a more efficient use of resources and solving the growing problem of abandoned garbage.

The Asian country plans to mix the PET of bottles and other kinds of plastic waste with bitumen to pave roads. This solution is expected to reduce the amount of plastic dumped in landfills by 40% and reduce bitumen imports from India by 40%. About 15% of the material of the new eco-friendly roads will consist of plastic: a percentage big enough to utilize all the waste produced by the 780 thousand inhabitants of Bhutan.

The national department for roads has started a partnership with the first recycling facility of the country and several construction experts to carry out the ambitious project, which was financed with 78 thousand dollars in its start-up phase.

In order to assess the feasibility of the project, a 150 m road section was built in October. The analyses carried out on the experiment revealed that plastic roads won’t need any maintenance works for at least 5 years. This point is extremely relevant, considering that traditional roads in Bhutan require 4 million euros per year to fight the effects of Himalayan altitude, strong rains and harsh winters.

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