For India, which generates over 15,000 tonnes of plastic waste everyday, channelling that waste into road-building should be a necessity than an option. Safer disposal than, say, melting it down and releasing copious quantities of toxic fumes is ensured, as is a cheap input that could pull down road construction costs—and given how many more kilometres India needs to add to its road network, any legitimate reduction in costs is always welcome. As per the WEF, India has already built some 21,000 miles of roads using plastic waste. A mix of aggregate (sand and stone chips) and bitumen heated at 165oC and 160oC, respectively, is added to shredded plastic, and the resulting mix is then added to some more hot bitumen. The new material mix is reported to have superior binding. While bitumen usage is cut because of plastic—thereby reducing the carbon footprint of road construction—plastic roads have certain other advantages like greater durability than asphalt-concrete roads because they don’t absorb water, and therefore, exhibit lesser rutting.
While the civic authority in Bengaluru has experimented with plastic roads—building some 600 km of thoroughfare and roads using plastic blend—many other cities in the country are catching on; some are even considering this as a part of their smart-city plan. The Centre even issued a set of guidelines for plastic blending in November 2015 for its flagship rural roads programme, the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. Plastic roads are quite the rage in the European Union—which has taken on massive environmental conservation and pollution mitigation goals—too. Meanwhile, monikered the plastic man of India, Professor R Vasudevan of Thiagarajar College of Engineering in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, has developed a cement block/stone substitute popularly called plastone that uses granite/stone waste and even industrial slag blended with plastic to create non-porous, water-resistant blocks that are being used to line canals and other flowing water bodies.