One of the world’s largest chemical companies is working to reduce their environmental impact by turning plastic waste into roads – and they have already diverted over 220,000 pounds of plastic from ending up in landfills.
Dow Chemical began their recycling efforts in 2017 when they launched several pilot programs to test the plastic roads in India and Indonesia.
In addition to the roads lasting longer, they were also estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 tons. Now that the roads have proved successful, the company has started laying plastic roads in the US.
Because American states have more restrictive requirements for new roads in comparison to Indonesia, it has proven difficult to facilitate the recycling program in America, but Dow recently finished two new plastic roads in Freeport, Texas using 1,686 pounds of recycled low-density polyethylene plastic — which is the equivalent weight of about 120,000 plastic grocery bags.
“Right now we’re focused on using projects like this to increase awareness that plastic roads are a viable option,” Dow’s global sustainability leader, Jeff Wooster, told Business Insider.
Collectively, Dow has now laid more than 26 miles of recycled plastic pavement around the world, which has saved about 100 tonnes of waste from going to a landfill.
In Indonesia, Dow worked with the government and various stakeholders to complete the first plastic road trial in Depok. Approximately 3.5 metric tons of plastic waste material were mixed into asphalt to create the road over the course of two months, which reportedly resulted in a highly resistant plastic waste-based road that was more durable and stronger than typical roads.
“We are extremely pleased with the success of this project and what it promises,” said Bambang Candra, a commercial vice president for the company’s Asia Pacific packaging branch. “The technology behind these new plastics-based roads has proven simple enough for wide-scale application in Indonesia’s transport infrastructure. We are confident it will help manage the sheer volume of plastics waste the country produces.”
Dow has also become one of the founding companies of a new international nonprofit called the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. Upon announcing the alliance’s creation in January, the company said they would be committing $1 billion to end plastic pollution with the additional goal of raising another $1.5 billion over the course of the next five years.
“Companies do not make plastics with the intent of it ending up in the ocean, and we acknowledge the strong role the industry must play in order to help eliminate ocean plastic waste by 2035,” said Candra.
(WATCH the Alliance to End Plastic Waste promo video below)
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