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South Africa Begins Operation To Construct Africa’s First Plastic Road


August 6, 2019

As revolution advances apace, the world continues to find a solution to each and every problem. Since time immemorial, the world has grappled with pollution. Approximately only 10 percent of plastics produced are recycled, the rest end up being dumped, and eventually, most of them get into rivers, threatening the aquatic life and polluting water.

Many countries more so in Africa continue to ban the use of plastics in an attempt to tackle the pollution menace.

And now it is possible to construct roads using recycled plastic. A number of countries including UK, US, China, have embraced the idea of plastic roads, having built some roadways using plastics, a move which has greatly helped reduce plastic pollution.

South Africa is the latest entrant to the list of countries constructing roads with plastics. The Southern African country has begun work on its first plastic road. The road is being constructed in Kouga Municipality in the Eastern Cape.

Earlier this week, the municipality revealed that it has begun installing new stormwater pipes with work expected to be completed in the next three months.

The idea of the plastic road was first raised in 2016 but it was given an approval beginning of 2019.

Kouga Municipality Executive mayor, Horatio Hendricks, said the road is being built by civil engineering experts following a partnership between Scottish company MacRebur and the local authority. MacRebur is a Dumfriesshire-based company founded in 2016.

“The backlog in road repairs for our region is estimated to be more than R500-million. While Kouga is strong financially, we simply do not have the rates base to deal with this backlog decisively,” Hendricks said.

Apparently, prefabricated plastic roads are 60 percent stronger and up to three times longer than conventional roads. The cost of constructing them is also way lower.

MacRebur will work with SP Excel and Scribante Construction, Port Elizabeth-based civil engineering and construction firms.

“Poor roads have a devastating impact on communities. It’s not only a danger to motorists it is also bad for the economy as it scares off potential investors and makes it difficult for existing businesses to ply their trade,” Hendricks said.

If the project records a success, a factory will be established in Kouga to produce the plastic pellets locally.

“Up to 1,8 million plastic bags can be used in just one kilometer of road. The road is stronger and more durable, as water, the main cause of potholes, does not penetrate it as easily as with traditional asphalt mixes,” the DA wrote in a Twitter post.

“It will be a triple win for our people better roads, less pollution, and more job opportunities,” he noted.

Normally, after collecting the plastics, the second step is sorting them, then cleaning. The plastics are then dried and shredded. The shredded plastic is mixed and melted at around 170°C. Hot bitumen is then added and mixed with the melted plastic.

Key to note is the fact that there different plastic types to suit different environments. For instance, there are types of plastics designed for roads in high heat places like the Middle East and there are others made to resist the freeze-thaw cycle in colder places such as Canada.

Featured Image Courtesy: The Courier

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