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Plastic scrap roads through the Himalayas

Asia – Bhutan in South Asia is looking to plastic scrap to help pave its new roads, according to the Reuters news agency. Resource efficiency and a mounting waste problem are hailed as catalysts for the Green Road project.

The country plans to mix post-consumer PET bottles and other waste plastic with bitumen to blacktop its roads of the future. Through this approach, it is hoped to reduce plastic landfilling by up to 40% and to cut bitumen imports from India by 40% too, says entrepreneur and engineer Rikesh Gurung. Roughly 15% of the mix in the eco-friendly roads will be plastic – sufficient to utilise all the plastic waste generated by the nation’s 780 000 people.

Bhutan’s department of roads has entered into a collaboration with the country’s first waste recycling plant and several construction experts in order to pursue this ambitious project, backed by US$ 78 000 of initial funding. Gurung points to positive results from the 150-metre-long pilot road constructed in October, stressing that the plastic roads will not require maintenance for at least five years. With Bhutan’s traditional roads, over US$ 4 million is spent annually to combat the effects of the Himalayan altitude, rainfall and cold winters.

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