Africa's first eco-friendly ‘plastic’ road opened in EC
Africa's first eco-friendly road incorporating waste plastic was officially opened at Kouga Municipality in the Eastern Cape on Friday, December 13. Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks cut the ribbon at Woltemade Street in Jeffreys Bay to declare the now plastic-infused road open to traffic.
A 300m strip of Woltemade Street has been re-layered with plastic-infused tar, with a further section of Koraal Street to follow. The international innovation from Scotland is environmentally-friendly and cost-efficient and is expected to assist the Kouga region with its R500 million road repair backlog. This is a joint project by Kouga Municipality, MacRebur SA and two Port Elizabeth-based civil engineering and construction companies. It is estimated that up to 1,8 million plastic bags can be used in just one kilometre of road.
“The road now includes about 700kg of recycled waste plastic. The plastic was turned into pellets using special formula and then added to the asphalt mix used for the top layer of the road. The result is a road that is more durable and also friendlier to the environment,” said Hendricks.
The innovative new approach to road-building reduced the amount of bitumen required for the asphalt mix. Bitumen is a fossil fuel and its extraction and use accelerate climate change. The plastic pellets replace a portion of the bitumen, thereby minimising harm to the atmosphere. The recycling technology used, could further prove to be one of the best ways to rid the planet of waste plastic.
“Plastic is another major contributor to climate change in addition to the damage it does to our oceans. One of the big challenges is how to get rid of waste plastic without dangerous toxins being released. This technology could prove to be the answer, as tests have shown that it actually prevents the plastic from leaching as it degrades,” According to Laura-Leigh Randall, spokesperson for Kouga.
About 1,5 tonnes of plastic, the equivalent of 1,8 million single-use bags, were used in just 1km of road. That means getting rid of 3 million plastic bags on the planet.
Kouga Municipality is piloting the new approach to tarring roads in partnership with MacRebur SA, the local representatives of the Scottish company that developed the plastic pellets. MacRebur plans on establishing a manufacturing plant in South Africa.
“We would like to see the plant being built in Kouga. Not only will this create much-needed jobs, but it will also be an opportunity for our communities to make money by collecting and selling waste plastic,” Hendricks said.
The construction work was done at no cost to the municipality.
The spokesperson for the Eastern Cape Department of Transport, Unathi Binqose said the department is aware of this project spearheaded by the Kouga Municipality.
“Some roads are under the jurisdiction of municipalities, so it is up to them to find ways that work best for their respective communities. We welcome any innovation to improve the quality and maintenance of roads in our province,” said Binqose.