Vancouver, where the streets are paved with environmentally-friendly asphalt made from recycled plastic

Making asphalt from recycled plastic reduces emissions that harm the environment

VANCOUVER – A truly green initiative. In Canada, in Vancouver, an experiment is underway to surface roads using recycled plastic bottles. This is a new and original use of plastic and, in addition, lessens the impact on the environment as it reduces the harmful emissions released when preparing the mixture.

THE INITIATIVE – A few days ago the City of Vancouver officially launched an initiative that aims to improve air quality. It centres on a new process for preparing paving mixture, one of the components of which is 100% recycled plastic - from bottles to containers. According to the announcement, the method reduces the emission of greenhouse gases and improves air quality whilst the asphalt is being laid, putting the city one step closer to becoming the greenest city in the world.

THE PROCESS – Unlike the traditional process, the new one sees the mixture mixed at a lower temperature: bottles and other plastic items are melted down and turned into a special “glue” that is combined with traditional asphalt and helps keep it together. In addition, the lower temperature of the process means that the usual plumes of harmful smoke do not occur, significantly lowering the environmental impact.

PROS AND CONS – Plastic currently makes up 1% of the special mixture. The City of Vancouver says, however, that the costs are three times that of the traditional mix. However in the long term, in terms of energy and financial savings, 20% of the cost of fuel used to make asphalt would be saved, thereby lowering costs for companies, reducing environmental impact and reusing a material that is sometimes wrongly and too easily considered waste.