Three years ago, Plastics the Mag ran an article on PlasticRoad, a conceptual road made from plastic waste. Its creator, Volker Wessels, had estimated three years to create the first prototype. He successfully met his goal on 11 September with the inauguration of a brand-new plastic cycle path, a world first, in Zwolle, Overijssel province’s capital, in the Netherlands.
The first cycle path made from recycled plastic
Volker Wessels partnered with plastics manufacturers Wavin and Total to carry out this experiment: the pilot version measures around thirty metres and is made up of 70% plastic waste - its designers hope to reach 100% shortly, which is equivalent to 218,000 plastic cups or 500,000 plastic bottle caps. In line with the concept, the cycle path’s hollow structure promotes water drainage through evacuation pipes but also offers room for inserting electrical cables and smart sensors tasked with calculating the number of travellers, the soil temperature and the condition of the covering. In the near future, the sensors could serve as assistants for self-driving cars.
The road of tomorrow?
The cycle path is made up of lightweight and detachable modules, pre-fabricated road sections that can be assembled: an ideal solution for quick and easy installation, limited or even no maintenance, and greatly reduced transportation costs. In addition, its lifetime is three times longer than that of a conventional road. The modules can be easily disassembled and are recyclable.
A second recycled plastic cycle path is scheduled for installation in Giethoorn, another Dutch city, and PlasticRoad’s partners are considering applying this virtuous model, that is entirely in line with the principles of the circular economy, to other infrastructure such as railway station platforms, sidewalks and car parks.