Plastic bicycle paths

Plastic bicycle paths

The world consumes 350 million tons of plastic every year. Much of it ends up on landfills or gets incinerated. Europeans alone generate 25 million tons of plastic waste, of which only 30% is reused or recycled. Dutch company PlasticRoad wants to help to reduce this waste by building bicycle paths made from recycled plastic.

Dutch town Zwolle's 30-meter bicycle path, contains about 218,000 plastic cups and is 3 times more durable than a regular asphalt bike path. The road surface is manufactured with a significant amount of recycled plastic but will ultimately be made from 100% recycled plastic.

The concept is the brainchild of Dutch companies Royal VolkerWessel and Wavin. In collaboration with French-based Total, they put the idea into production under the name PlasticRoad.

Modular capabilities

The plastic bike path's modular capabilities makes it 4 times lighter than a regular asphalt road and 70% faster to install. PlasticRoad places the road on a sandy surface without any extra foundations. This saves 2-3 layers of asphalt, reducing the impact to the surroundings and leading to less CO2 emissions. Asphalt concrete is reponsible for 1.5 million tons of CO2 emissions a year.

The prefabricated modules are hollow and fitted with cables and pipes, including sewage pipes and water drainage systems. The sections also contain sensors that check the road’s performance, temperature, the number of bicycles using the road and the durability of the road. This technology makes it the world’s first smart bike lane.

The prefabricated modular roads also have integrated roadmarkings and guardrails. And PlasticRoad paints the roadmarks with special paint that glow in the dark.

The PlasticRoad partners are looking beyond bike paths made from recycled plastic. They want to apply the same technique to parking lots, train platforms and pavements.

The prefabricated modules are hollow and fitted with cables and pipes, including sewage pipes and water drainage systems.

Encourage innovation

The province of Overijssel and municipality of Zwolle have been keen to pilot this project. They see the PlasticRoad as a solution for achieving a circular economy and infrastructure. They hope that it will pave the way for further developments and encourages entrepreneurs to come up with more innovative and sustainable ideas.

100% recyclable and reusable by 2030

The European Union has drafted a plan that focuses on reducing plastic waste within the EU. Their goal is to recycle or reuse every bit of plastic waste on mainland Europe by 2030.

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