South Africa's Roads Are Being Repaved by Recycled Plastic Milk Bottles

The new eco-friendly asphalt contains roughly 118 to 128 bottles per ton.
Loukia Papadopoulos

In the fight against climate change, no action is too small or too unimportant. Now, a new initiative in South Africa is seeking to help with plastic pollution by recycling plastic milk bottles into pavement for its roads.


Recycling milk bottles

Shisalanga Construction has already repaved more than 400 meters of the road in Cliffdale, on the outskirts of Durban using this special asphalt. It is estimated that the work has helped recycle almost 40,000 two-liter plastic milk bottles.

The firm uses high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a particular type of plastic usually found in milk bottles. This plastic is turned into pellets at a local recycling plant.

It is estimated that every ton of asphalt contains roughly 118 to 128 bottles. Shisalanga says the eco-friendly process produces fewer toxic emissions than conventional methods.

It also produces asphalt that is more water-resistant and durable. It can withstand temperatures as high as 70 degrees Celsius (158F) and as low as 22 below zero (-7.6F).

Spectacular results

"The results are spectacular," general manager Deane Koekemoer told CNN. "The performance is phenomenal."

And even though the cost of production is the same as previous methods, the plastic-asphalt built roads are expected to last longer, saving money for the city.

The KZN Department of Transport, the body responsible for commissioning the plastic project, seems to be impressed with the results. Kit Ducasse, control technician at KZN Department of Transport told CNN: "It's working so well. Time will tell, but what I've seen is great news."

The department has now commissioned a highway on-ramp in addition to the first road. In the meantime, Shisalanga has reached out to the South Africa National Roads Agency (SANRAL) with a project to lay a further 200 tons of plastic tarmac on the country's main N3 highway.

This is all great news for global warming and exactly the kind of story we love to report.

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