Cumbria County Council is introducing ‘plastic’ roads around the county after successfully trialling a new product that replaces some of the bitumen with recycled waste plastic as part of the asphalt mix for resurfacing schemes.
The county council was the first highways authority in England to carry out trials with the ground-breaking plastic-based bitumen replacement material and, on the back of that success, is now using the product in some of the larger resurfacing projects in Cumbria.
One of the biggest schemes to date was a £200,000 resurfacing scheme on the A7 Kingstown Road / Scotland Road, one of the main arterial routes into Carlisle, which was completed earlier this month.
For the A7 works, using the recycled plastic material involved the equivalent of offsetting 500,000 plastic bottles and over 800,000 one-use plastic carrier bags.
The county council has today (Friday) been sharing its experience of using the plastic material with officials from the Department for Transport. The DfT is exploring the viability of new innovations and technology for improving highways infrastructure and wanted to find out more about the ‘plastic road’ trials in Cumbria.
Stephen Hall, Cumbria County Council’s Assistant Director for Highways, Transport and Fleet, said: “A significant amount of recycled plastic goes into resurfacing works like the A7 resurfacing scheme, which has clear environmental benefits. Our industry does have a significant environmental impact in terms of carbon footprint, use of oil based products and the use of quarried material. I believe it is incumbent upon us as an industry to seek new and innovative ways to mitigate this impact and using waste plastic in the road surface is something that we’ve been very keen to support. ”
Councillor Keith Little, Cumbria County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “Cumbria was the first council in the country to trial this new road surface, working with our supplier MacRebur, and we’ve been very pleased with the results. Using this waste plastic material provides a more sustainable solution for road resurfacing and we will be using it in a number of locations across Cumbria’s road network.”
The recycled plastic waste product used in resurfacing involves a bitumen substitute which can be used in the standard asphalt mix and is made from waste plastic converted into pellets. Because the product is made from waste plastic, it’s more environmentally friendly and provides an opportunity to reduce the carbon footprint of road construction.