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.
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.