The world’s first plastic bicycle path made of recycled bottles, cups and packaging has opened in the Netherlands, as part of a pilot that could see similar roads open up across the country.
The 30-metre path, made of recycled plastic equivalent to more than 218,000 plastic cups, is expected to be three times as durable as an asphalt alternative.
It also contains sensors to monitor the road’s performance, including its temperature, the number of bikes that pass over it and its ability to cope with the traffic.
The prefabricated sections of cycle path are light and hollow making them easy to transport and 70% quicker to install. Cables and utility pipes are able to be easily fitted inside, and the path is designed to drain off rainwater.
The joint venture between the Dutch engineers KWS, the oil and gas conglomerate Total, and pipe-makers Wavin, was opened this week in Zwolle, in the north-east of the Netherlands. A second path is to be installed in Giethoorn in Overijssel, and Rotterdam is the city most likely to take up the technology.
Its is believed that many of the benefits of the paths will apply to plastic roads.
The path’s inventors, Anne Koudstaal and Simon Jorritsma, said: “This first pilot is a big step towards a sustainable and future-proof road made of recycled plastic waste. When we invented the concept, we didn’t know how to build a plastic road, now we know.”
Asphalt concrete is responsible for 1.5m tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, equivalent to 2% of global road transport emissions.
When first announcing the concept in 2015, Jorritsma said: “You see a bottle; we see a road.”
Earlier this year the EU launched an urgent plan to clean up Europe’s act on plastic waste and ensure that every piece of packaging on the continent is reusable or recyclable by 2030.
Brussels’ strategy, which followed China’s decision to ban imports of foreign recyclable material, was designed to change minds in Europe, potentially tax damaging behaviour, and modernise plastics production and collection by investing €350m (£310m) in research. Each year, 25m tonnes of plastic waste is generated by Europeans, but less than 30% is collected for recycling.
Some doubts have been raised about the plastic path. Harmen Spek, from the anti-plastic lobby group Plastic Soup has warned that small particles of the plastic could find their way into the living environment due to heat, wear and run-off.
Not good ! This stuff off-gases vapors of many un-natural chemicals as it sits there. When the sun and the heat/cold cycle breaks this stuff down more, it becomes a dust, that you inhale when you walk on it on a dry day as the foot-traffic kicks the dust up, just as it happens with the plastic-chemo running tracks). Further damage; To make this stuff, they need to manufacture NEW chemicals and new liquid plastics to get it to stick together ( as it is with all plastic recycling. Recycling plastic is not like glass recycling, NEW petro-chemicals need to made to reuse old plastics.) We all know the air and water polluting that happens to just acquire the ingredients to make chemicals,–then there is more pollution in making the chemicals,–then add-in the pollution of making the plastic,( do not forget about the people working at these plastic factories, and the people downwind.) now, the designers want to add ANOTHER round of polluting ! Do not forget about the future, when this plastic road breaks-down to crumbled-dust, this waste must be disposed of in a safe place ( you cant sprinkle this stuff on your garden ). Many things they sell us as “eco-friendly” is a fraud or just stupid, as is this road, and all the running tracks, artificial turf,and playgrounds that are covered these types of toxic materials. Don’t celebrate these idiots with your article, critique them.