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LA Eyes Use of Plastic in Road Longevity

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

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To facilitate research into increasing road longevity, the City of Los Angeles is working in collaboration with TechniSoil Industrial to evaluate using recycled plastic as a binder in newly paved roads. Though there are other, similar endeavors, what makes this research unique is the wholesale recycling of the asphalt itself.

According to Los Angeles Magazine, the pilot testing site, slated to be constructed later this year, will be on First Street at Grand Avenue downtown.

Recycled Plastic Roadways

Sean Weaver, President of TechniSoil Industrial, told Fast Company that roads being 100% recycled has always been something of a “holy grail of the road construction market—could you recycle 100% of the top surface of the road, grind it up, crush it and put it right back down, and have that be as durable as the original hot mixed asphalt road?”

In this method of road treatment, which TechniSoil has spent the last several years developing, the company implements recycled PET plastic to take the place of bitumen. (PET plastic is often used to make water bottles, and bitumen is a byproduct of oil manufacturing that is used in asphalt.)

When deployed, what has been dubbed a “recycling train” grinds the top few inches of road, then sends the material to the back of the line, where the asphalt is crushed to a certain size and then mixed with liquid plastic. Start to finish, it results in one continuous process.

Company testing so far indicates that its roads can last eight to 13 times longer than a conventional road. Additional environmental perks also include a reduction in the amount of driving needed. Rather than 42 trucks’ worth of waste needing to be removed from one lane mile and another 42 trucks’ worth of material being brought in, much of what’s needed comes from on site. If the product turns out to be a success, it could also serve as a viable end use for PET plastic.

TechniSoil has so far tested in a variety of climates and is currently planning to expand to other cities. Keith Mozee, Assistant Director at the Department of Street Services, told Los Angeles Magazine that the city is looking at a 25% potential reduction in production cost.

“And if it is successful, it will cut down on our maintenance costs as well, because we’ll have to go back fewer times to pave the street,” Mozee added.

In India, plastic has been used to fill potholes for well over a decade, and as of 2017, the country has used plastic asphalt on 100,000 kilometers (over 62,000 miles) of roadway.


Tagged categories: NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Recycled building materials; Research and development; Roads/Highways

Comment from T W, (11/12/2019, 10:05 AM)

Now can we have our straws back?

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