It seems logical that keeping trash off the roadways is the eco-friendly thing to do, but not in this case. Vancouver B.C. is the first city in the world integrating a new plastic-to-asphalt technology to literally add trash into the asphalt mix. It’s all part of the city’s plan to become the world’s Greenest City by 2020.
The process works like this:
Recycled plastic is melted down into a waxy substance which is then added to the asphalt mix for repaving city streets.
The new plastic-infused asphalt mixture can be stored at 250 degrees F, while traditional hot asphalt needs temps of 320 degrees to maintain its liquid properties. The lower temperature requirements save 20-percent in heating costs at the asphalt storage plants.
The city also claims the new asphalt mixture produces fewer greenhouse gases and helps improve the air quality during the paving process.
The types of plastic used in this operation include plastic milk jugs, shampoo bottles, ice cream containers and more. These are types of plastics referred to as HDPE plastics, and they are labeled as “SPI code 2.” These plastics are safe and non-toxic.
The amount of plastic added to the asphalt makes up only about 1% of the total mix, but when you consider that the Vancouver metro area is the third largest in Canada, that adds up to quite a few pieces of plastic that would otherwise get buried in a landfill somewhere.
Vancouver’s Greenest City 2020 initiative is broken down into 10 targeted plans to help make the city one of the most eco-friendly metro areas in the world. The goal is to eventually become zero carbon, zero waste and improve the ecosystem in the city. It’s quite a gargantuan goal for such a large city, but kudos to Vancouver for setting their sights high.