5 U.S. States Are Repaving Roads With Unrecyclable Plastic Waste–And Results Are Impressive

Headache-inducing plastic waste such as printer cartridges and plastic bags are being turned into aggregate material for asphalt road mixtures around the country.

Plastic roads have built up a head of scientific steam recently, with scientists and regulators seeing roads as a decent place to reutilize plastic that is difficult to recycle in a cost-effective manner.

Pilot programs are ongoing in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, and Hawai’i, with transportation regulators monitoring performance and durability of the roads, and environmental regulators on the lookout for potential microplastic contamination.

All in all plastic roads could be a big part of future societies, as the programs all show good results, and for the moment at least, no microplastic pollutant runoffs in several states.

Last year GNN reported that a stretch of Australian highway was completed with millions of used facemasks, while another in America has taken to adding shredded tires.

A stretch of road in Hawai’i between Kilaha Street and the beginning of Fort Weaver Road near Cormorant Avenue is testing a recycled polymer mixture in its asphalt that contains the equivalent of 150,000 water bottles.

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Virginia officials are testing plastic in six different stretches of roads around Richmond. Results were monitored between summer of 2021 and summer of 2022.

Pennsylvania are testing two quarter-mile road stretches within Ridley Creek State Park using a mixture that contains 150,000 plastic bags.

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A shoulder of Highway 99 in Elk Grove near Sacramento, California, is being paved with an asphalt mixture that contains 10% recycled plastic from printing ink cartridges. After looking and performing better than expected, a spokesperson for the CA DoT told the Pew Trust, they have expanded its coverage for further testing.

Likewise, this year’s $3.8 million budget for paving roads in Missouri included a $200,000 extra for the utilization of plastic in the asphalt mixtures.

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