Falling in line with the central government’s flagship project Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the ministry of road transport and highways has taken the initiative to utilise waste plastic, which otherwise is not recyclable, in roads and highway construction. Till now the central government has already constructed 1 lakh km of road by using plastic waste and plans to double it in this financial year, reports Hindustan Times.
The revolution of plastic waste roads started brewing in 2015 when the Centre made it mandatory for all road developers in the country to use plastic waste for road construction. In 2016, Union minister Nitin Gadkari had announced the initiative. Since then, the government has utilised the waste plastic in constructing one lakh kilometre of road in 11 states.
Central govt saves Rs 30,000 per km
According to the report, earlier for every one kilometre of road construction, 10 tonnes of bitumen was being used. After the central government came up with this initiative, 9 tonnes of bitumen and 1 ton of wasted plastic is being utilised to construct every 1 km of road. Which means that by introducing this methodology, the central government is saving one-tonne bitumen per kilometre, the cost of which is Rs 30,000.
The process of building roads by utilising recycled waste of plastic was conceptualised by Padma Sri Rajagopalan Vasudevan, a professor from Madurai’s Thiagarajar College of Engineering. According to the professor, fondly known as the ‘Plastic Man Of India’, plastic waste roads can prevent potholes. They are more durable against extreme weather conditions like floods and heat as compared to the conventional roads.
How it works
- The civic bodies of each city are first required to collect all the city’s wasted plastic and put them through three tasks – cleaning, drying and shredding. The plastic waste can include anything from sweet wrappers to shopping bags.
- The plastic waste plant shreds the waste into 4mm pieces
- Next, the shredded pieces are added to the bitumen mix, which is also heated at 160°c. The final mix is used for constructing roads.
- The mix is combined with tar and coal and used to construct roads.
Western Railways installed benches made of recycled plastic waste at railway station
Besides being utilising for road construction, recycled plastic waste has also been used to construct benches, in the effort to promote the central government’s flagship initiative, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. In October last year, the Indian Railway Western Railway zone had installed three benches made of recycled plastic in the premises of Churchgate station in Mumbai.
India generates at least 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste daily, out of which about 60 per cent gets recycled, according to the Union environment ministry. The rest gets dumped in landfills, clogs drains, goes into the ocean as micro-plastics, or is burnt, leading to air pollution.