There's recycled plastic containers, recycled plastic park benches and even clothing made from recycled plastic fiber.
But now there's word out of the Netherlands that one company sees the future, and it includes roads made from recycled plastics.
Not toy car roads made from used plastics, but actual get-in-your-two-ton-car-and-drive roads.
The seemingly audacious idea comes from the people at Koninklijke Volker Wessels Stevin NV, also known as VolkerWessels, a Dutch construction firm with offices around the world.
This is not your crazy cousin who thinks he can get rich by melting old milk jugs into plastic bricks in his garage. VolkerWessels has been around for more than 150 years and has annual sales of 4.4 billion euros ($4.77 billion).
Dubbed PlasticRoad — seems right — here's what the company has to say about the idea:
“A lightweight design, a fraction of the construction time, virtually maintenance free, and three times the expected lifespan. PlasticRoad, which consists of 100 percent recycled material, is the ideal sustainable alternative to conventional road structures.”
Renderings created by the company feature a hollow structure within the rectangular PlasticRoad to allow space for cables, pipe and water.
VolkerWessels sees a world where recycled plastic is used to create what it calls “prefabricated road parts that can be installed in one piece.”
“The prefabricated production and the lightweight design also make construction of PlasticRoad into a much simpler task. Roads can be built in weeks instead of months. It is also much easier to control the quality of the road (stiffness, water drainage etc.),” the company writes on its website.
The company warns that the concept of PlasticRoad is just that: a concept at this point. But the city of Rotterdam is showing interest in the idea, according to The Guardian newspaper.
That same story indicates VolkerWessels sees the potential of placing the first recycled plastic road within three years.
“The PlasticRoad is still an idea on paper at the moment; the next stage is to build it and test it in a laboratory to make sure it's safe in wet and slippery conditions and so on. We are looking for partners who want to collaborate on a pilot — as well as manufacturers in the plastics industry,” the company said.
So, there you go. Here's a chance to get in on the ground floor of what truly would be a transformative use of recycled plastic.
More information is available at http://en.volkerwessels.com/en/news/detail/volkerwessels-introduces-the-plasticroad
Just don't tell the concrete folks.