As new trends in vehicle design and use increasingly take hold among drivers today, their impact on traditional road building technologies is also becoming evident.
According to a new study published by McKinsey (2021), this will gradually develop over the coming years into an automated, digital industry shaped by trends such as autonomous vehicles, automated production, digitalisation and the adoption of new road-building materials.
The new roads will look not only different, they will be built more easily, quickly and offer enhancements such as connectivity and the use of sensor technology.
Now, Netherlands-based PlasticRoad, a joint venture company established in 2020 by VolkerWessels and Wavin, has shown how this could be done.
Although the company is only a year old, the team there has been working on the concept of a road made from waste plastic for years - in fact, since 2013, when two engineers, Anne Koudstaal and Simon Jorritsma, came up with the idea of creating roads from modular elements made from recycled plastic waste.
That idea became a project, which became a company that has since developed a product portfolio featuring industrially-produced infrastructure solutions designed to address the effects of climate change, circular economy and modern-day challenges in the area of infrastructure, like carbon emissions and time and space restrictions and associated costs in built-up areas when it comes to realising and maintaining infrastructure. The recycled raw material used in the products consists of 100% recycled municipal plastic waste.
The new product portfolio officially launched during an online event on 20 May.
‘’PlasticRoad has come a long way since its first product trials in 2018. Today we officially launch our circular, climate-adaptive and lightweight (CCL) products onto the market. These industrially produced products made from plastic waste are now commercially available, we are ready. With CCL200 and CCL300, we are working together with a wide range of partners on achieving their and our sustainable ambitions,’’ said PlasticRoad’s Managing Director Eric Kievit.
Since 2018, the elements have got stronger and lighter decreasing from 48 kg/m² to 40 kg/m² in weight. Both CCL products promote a multi-purpose use of the available space, including for paving, water storage and drainage, and cable storage. The company’s recently launched CCL300 product offers a filter system that completely eliminates the need for a dedicated storm sewer.
The new sensors have been upgraded to make it possible to scale up the modular infrastructure in terms of functionality; next to predictive maintenance, these can now also make be connections to existing traffic management systems possible. The connectors between the individual road elements and the structure as a whole have been strengthened.
And, according to the company, the system offers simplified construction, management and maintenance, adding up to an attractive total cost of ownership.
PlasticRoad is already working with various partners in the Netherlands on the implementation of their road system. There is also growing interest from parties abroad, the company said. The first pilot in Mexico, for example, is underway.
Ultimately, PlasticRoad intends to roll out its product portfolio worldwide.