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  • Category: Science

    How good are the plastic mix roads?

    Wondering about the viability of plastic mix roads? Searching for the technical details of such roads and suggestions for how governments can be encouraged to adopt plastic in road construction? Find advice from our ISC experts here.

    Some years ago, a Madurai Professor of Chemistry made a big splash when he advocated the use of plastics, that is, used plastics, be that plastic bottles, or even small covers, plates etc in road construction. He advocated shredding of such plastic and then using the same in road construction.

    Some progress was made and after that, nothing much has been heard after that. Not that the entire State Government machinery is keen on banning plastic, the question as to what will happen to the existing used plastic in Tamil Nadu, still remains. It remains a huge headache and nobody knows how it is reused or whether it is reused at all.

    Members who know the inside technical details of the use of plastic in road construction may please respond. We should be able to make a suggestion to various State Governments to adopt the same and dispose the excess plastic in road construction.
  • Answers

    8 Answers found.
  • A Government order in November 2015 made it mandatory for all road developers in the country to use waste plastic, along with bituminous mixes, for road construction. This is to overcome the growing problem of plastic waste disposal in India. The technology for this was developed by the 'Plastic Man' of India, Prof Rajagopalan Vasudevan, Professor of Chemistry at Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai.
    Plastic waste helps in increasing the strength of the road. These roads have better resistance towards rainwater and cold weather. Since a large amount of plastic waste is required for a small stretch of road, the amount of waste plastic around will definitely come down.
    But I am not sure whether this is being followed by all road construction companies. Recently in Hyderabad, some part of the road is made using this technique and after observing the quality, they may start laying the other roads also with this technique.

    always confident

  • The idea of mixing plastic in the road concrete is making rounds in the construction circles and technically speaking upto a small percentage (5 to 10) can be mixed conveniently.

    The problem is the proper logistics and basic framework to collect the specific garbage and make it available to the construction sites. The cost of transportation is also to be seen as that itself may become a crucial factor.

    The fundamental thing required in this approach is collection of the plastic material from the source itself so that it does not get mixed with the common garbage. Then comes the issue of storage and forwarding it to the construction sites. These are the primary requirements and after that only the economic analysis can be done regarding it's feasibility.

    However seeing it's great impact on environment and proper disposal of the plastic garbage, this approach is welcome even if it is a bit costlier.

    Knowledge is power.

  • On Reasearch, it could be established that an addition of 5- 10 percent of plastic material along with tar, sand and concrete would produce extra strength to the road imparting to a longer life to the structure. We have seen that there is enough detoriation of the condition of the road owing to plying over heavy - vechiles on the roads and any maintenance done in the past does not provide the same strength as noticed earlier.
    Hence an addition to the plastic material being subjected to high pressure with the pressure - mechanism would yield a better compressive - strength to the road.
    However, the favourable factors in this regard are to be seen so as the getter better financial - margin in the construction - activity of the roads including its availability in an affordable way, regular supply of the materials by the contractors.

  • Any new inventions should be supported and utilized with the intention of public interest and not on any politics of any type. This idea was initially supported on trial basis by then chief minister and a road in Nungambakkam at Chennai was laid on trail basis with ended in success result. But later with small period gap, the ministry changed with another political party and the idea of continuation was dropped without considering the public interest but stopping whatever the earlier government did. In those days a temple was constructed in the way as started by one king and finished by following kings. In such a way only many temples were constructed.

  • Plastic roads have turned out to be a good investment. And it can take care of lot of the road issues in some of the places. So far following has been observed.

    1. Plastic roads helping recycle the plastic.
    2. Plastic roads in the less crowded area performing lot better.
    3. Plastic roads in crowded and most dug areas seem to be having issues as there is wear and tear.

    That being said, there are limitations both financial and resources wise to employ the people to work on such roads. However a lot of places have started working on that. And it seems if this project works out properly over a span of decades then surely we can learn from the experience and recycle plastic for roads and other places.

  • A. Professor (chemsitry) Rajapgopalan Vasudevan, from Thayagarajar College of Engineering in Madurai came up with the idea of recylcing the growing amount of plastic waste generated every year in India.

    Based on his idea, he experimented the use of heated bitumen ( main compenent of road works) mixed with waste plastic and then using it as a final coating to the crushed, compacted stone layer of the road. He did this in 2002. In 2002, Jambulingam street, Nungambakkam area of Chennai was one the first platic roadt in India. The college got a patent in 2006. He moved on to create 'plastone blocks in 2012 and use if for compound walls, canal walls etc.

    B. The Government of India, in 2015 accepted the use of plastics in road works. Toward the end of 2011, plastic raods were laid in Jameshedpur followed by other cities. This option was also quoted under the Swach Bharath campiagn

    C.If we read the Government policy on plastic page management page19-20 of this pdf (file:///C:/Users/HP/Downloads/Resource%20book_Plastic%20Waste%20Management.pdf) (

    D.The biggest setback or problem with plastic roads is that the used plastic is still present. As the surface wear and tear occurs with everyday use, there is fear of stirring up micro-plastic particle related pollution and its potential effects on being inhaled by humans.

    E.Also, during the production phase, since various plastics are used, there is an inherent problem of each of these separating out leading to structural weakness of the 'plastic-bitumen' mix and hence the road itself.

    F.Even if the plastic-bitumen mixture is stable, its on the top of an old, weak roads, can lead to plastic fragments being dislodged and finding its way in the soil and the water. There are reports that build up of microplastics in the soil can potentially lead to disturbances in the soil bio-ecology that supports plant and animal life.

    G. Knowing our ground realities in our country, there could be many hurdles in transforming this pilot project plastic road to the next giant leap of mainstream national road works of the entire country. There would be logistical issues,anti-plastic road lobbying by the traditional road work and plastic waste management sectors, there could be issues with sourcing the waste, issues with certifying and quality control, need for newer machines or incorporating technology etc.

  • So, to sum up, plastic roads have been around since 1970s in western countries ( using virgin plastic), with the current Indian concept there are potential concerns with microplastic pollution in the long run. I personally feel, the issue of microplastics and the feasibility of implementing the plastic road option on a national scale need to be analyzed by a practical thinktank team of policymakers and experts in the field of plastic related science and environment sector to take it forward.

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  • The good point about plastic mix roads is the lower consumption of bitumen in them. For every kilo of stone, 50 gms of bitumen are used and 1/10th of this is plastic waste. The roads that have been constructed with plastic waste have also better stability, strength, and durability. The bitumen used in this method of construction are bitumen 60/70, bitumen 80/100, or viscosity grades of bitumen.
    Plastic waste mixes with bitumen are a better solution for road construction in regions with heavy rain. These types of roads have hollow spaces for the storage of excessive rainwater.
    I myself think that the idea of plastic roads is new and we should wait for more experiments and findings in this field.

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