Vancouver Will Pave Its Streets With Recycled Plastic

Normally, trash in the street is a negative characteristic for a major city, but it’s put the city of Vancouver, Canada in the headlines in a positive way. City officials recently announced that Vancouver will be the first-ever city to include recycled plastics in asphalt used to pave and repair roads.

Although we’ve seen plastic waste recycled into lots of things, from iPhone cases to blue jeans, but this is the first time a major city has attempted to incorporate this abundant waste product into an infrastructure-boosting material. Although the hybrid asphalt will still be black in color like normal pavement, it will be made from used water bottles, milk cartons and yogurt containers.

pavement, asphalt, recycled plastic, Vancouver

Image via gregslandscaping/Flickr

To make this resourceful new type of asphalt, recyclable material is ground up and made into a wax which then used as a warm mix for asphalt. ”It’s actually a lot like crayon wax and what we are doing with this is putting it in the asphalt which we are putting down today,” Vancouver city engineer Peter Judd explained to CBC News.

Although reports state that the plastic – which constitutes only one percent of the total asphalt mix – will be three times more expensive than currently-used methods, the process involves 20 percent less fuel and will lead to savings in the long term. Apparently, the new recycled ingredient also allows crews to apply asphalt on cool days, which wasn’t possible before because it would cause the paving material to seize up.

The only odd, and non-green aspect of this trial is that the recycled plastic material is currently being imported from Ontario. The city says it hopes to source the plastic from local recycling facilities in the future.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog

  • rckoegel

    Sticking plastic particles in our roads isnt really any different than putting it in our park benches or landfills… We put way too much energy into getting petroleum out of the ground, then use even more energy shipping it around (dangerously), and mpre still converting it to plastic…. It most certainly belonged in the ground at one point, but now its better off being continuously reused as laundry, and dish soap, and other non-food storage containers. The quality of these products will only degrade so far, loosing only so much volume of plastic each time its recycled. By the time its all gone we should be using plant based plastics, or the near infinitely reusable glass instead. And while on the subject, why do people think its in any way sustainable to break up glass and use that in concrete too? Seriously, seriously rediculous!

    • http://twitter.com/TrustInCanada TrustInCanada

      I think the best way how to get rid of plastic is to burn it in industrial ovens, e.g. in cement kilns. You can easily find out the best cases of utilization of MSW in cement industry. It’s so called win-win situation when city municipalities and cement producers have benefits of such an approach. Let me know if anyone has any further questions on this approach..

      • rckoegel

        my comment was not a question. and your comment was not a response to mine! just a bunch of pro plastic incineration and pro plastic in concrete jibberish. you neither addressed the issues I posed for consideration, nor responded to the one statement I made in the form of a question… though it was a rhetorical question, so a response was not necessary.