plastic roads
(Joe Giddens/PA)
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Funding for plastic roads that could stop potholes from forming is among the new technology being backed by the Government. It’s all part of research and trials to future proof UK highways.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said £22.9 million is to be used to fund real-world tests across eight local authorities. these are Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Cumbria, Staffordshire, Kent, Reading, Suffolk and Solihull in Birmingham.

TRANSPORT Potholes and plastic roads diagram
(PA Graphics)

Other technologies to be trialled include using kinetic energy gathered from roads to power lighting. Research is also looking at harnessing geothermal energy to prevent car parks and bus stations from freezing over in winter. Some £1.6 million of the fund will be used to extend an existing plastic roads trial in Cumbria.

What are plastic roads?

Plastic roads are made by recycling waste plastic into small pellets. These are then added into an asphalt mix in place of Bitumen, the substance that is in part derived from oil and is used to help bind asphalt together.

The solution is said to increase the life span of roads on which it is used. Which in theory should mean less pot holes. As long as the asphalt is laid properly in the first place of course.

Why we need plastic roads

“Potholes are the number one enemy for road users. And this Government is looking at numerous ways to keep our roads in the best condition,” the Transport Secretary said.

car in pot hole

“Today’s trials will see how new technologies work in the real world to ensure our roads are built for the 21st century.”

In Buckinghamshire, kinetic energy recovery technology will be used to gather energy from the testing carriageway and relay it to roadside battery units.

While the trials in Bedfordshire will see geothermal energy used to heat water pipes laid just below the surface to help de-ice car parks and bus stations in sub-zero conditions. This builds on other research into heated roads.

* Prices correct at time of posting.

6 COMMENTS

  1. The street where I live was resurfaced about ten years ago with plastic/tar. 10 years on, the only bits that have potholes are the bits that were dug up.

    The only problem is that if it rains, the water sits on the surface, so when the temperature drops, the layer of ice on the top gets thicker and more dangerous.

  2. So, not only are we flushing thousands of tons of micro-plastic debris into our drains, rivers and seas, created as vehicle tyres wear, we are now going to make the situation worse by making our roads from the very material we are being told we should be using less!

  3. If you read the article it clearly states “Plastic roads are made by recycling waste plastic into small pellets” we will never stop using plastics in some form or another, so to use them in that way is better than chucking them into landfill or the sea.

  4. @Chris: I agree that this may be better than landfill or the sea, but this is simply a form of distributed landfill. It still doesn’t stop the plastics leaching into the environment and may actually make it worse than appropriately storing the plastic in landfill until a suitable time in the future when it may be actively recycled to become passive in terms of the environment.

  5. It`s a difficult issue to come down on one side of.
    Keep in mind though that the plastic here is replacing the bitumen, which is itself a nasty polluter, both in it`s manufacture and as it decays.
    So then, damned either way 🙁

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