Saturday, January 19, 2008

Recycling of plastic waste to lay strong roads

Hi everybody—
The blog posted by Allison on plastic bags and the menace they create inspired me to share this news from my country –India. Salem, an industrial town in India is the first to lay a plastic-tar road in the country. The city Mayor Suresh Kumar announced recently that the plastic-tar technology would be adopted widely by the Corporation to mitigate the menace of plastic wastes.

Speaking at the inaugural function of the laying of a 350-metre road on experimental basis using plastic tar technology here, the Mayor said the problem of plastic wastes management posed a major challenge.So, the Corporation had decided to adopt the polymer-tar technology developed by Dr R Vasudevan, a Chemistry Professor from Thyagarajan College of Engineering at Madurai.

The bitumen and gravel mix used for laying roads is combined with flakes or granules made from domestic plastic wastes like carry bags, teacups and variety of domestic plastics.The public can sell their domestic plastic wastes instead of throwing them into the trash can. The Salem Manufacturers Association has shown keen interest in recycling domestic wastes and the Salem Exenora club has already taken steps to promote the concept, the Mayor said.

Speaking about his technology, Dr R Vasudevan said the bitumen mixed with plastic flakes made from domestic wastes displays better hardness, better resistance to water penetration and hence lasts longer. Domestic wastes falling into categories such as polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene can be converted into flakes or granules and be mixed with the aggregate. Alternatively the plastic can be mixed with heated tar and later mixed with the gravel. Polyethylene can be used up to 5 per cent and polystyrene 20 per cent and so on, the professor said.

This project is a combined effort of the Salem Municipal Corporation, Corporators, the Exenora Club, an NGO (Non Governmental Organization) and the plastic manufacturers. The Municipality near Madurai has also adopted the technology and expressed satisfaction.

These roads laid with the new technology are almost a year old and are proving quite good. Other major cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai that are generating thousands of tonnes of garbage every day are in the process of adopting this technology.

Pollution can be tackled by the 3Rs—reduce/reuse/recycle
I guess a publicity campaign is warranted to educate the American public on these 3Rs regarding plastic bags. And the recycling option of plastic tar roads might well address the problem of bad roads that the blog by Hacfred is talking about!!

This news is from the web site of Indian Centre for Plastics in the Environment Issue: 9 October-02-2007

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