Virginia among states running pilot-program in building roads from plastic-mixture material

Virginia – We all know very well that plastic is considered dangerous for the environment because it is a long-lasting material that does not biodegrade. Being one of the most widely used materials in our everyday lives for decades, handling and managing plastic has become a major concern in modern history. Plastic releases harmful chemicals into the environment as it breaks down and has a huge negative impact on wildlife, ecosystems, and human health.

Handling and recycling plastic is a complex and expensive process. That’s why many countries worldwide are now trying to encourage people to use less plastic since it’s becoming evident that we can’t reach the desired levels of recycling globally. In the last decade, scientists have been focused on seeking new solutions for handling and managing plastic waste. One of the solutions is turning plastic waste into aggregate material for asphalt road mixtures, and several states are part of a pilot program that should show if this, newly discovered mixture will be a good fit for building roads.

Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, and Hawaii are the states in which roads are being built with this material, while transportation and environmental officials will monitor the process. Scientists found out that plastics such as printer cartridges and plastic bags can be well utilized in aggregate material mixtures in an environmentally friendly and cost-effective manner. They further said that all types of hard-to-degrade plastic might be reutilized this way, a process that might change the future of handling and managing plastic.

The reports show amazing results so far. According to scientists, these types of roads might become the standard in communities in the future. In recent years, several similar projects have also shown good results. In Australia, the government approved a highway project in which millions of used face masks were included in the material.

Transportation regulators will monitor the whole process, specifically the performance and durability of the roads. Environment regulators will also monitor the whole process from start to finish, focusing on potential microplastic contamination. It’s worth noting that the results so far are optimistic since no microplastic pollutant runoffs were reported in any of the previous pilot program cases.

In Virginia, officials are monitoring six different roads built with this material in and around Richmond. From the 1-year-long monitoring process that took place from the summer of 2021 to the summer of 2022, the results are impressive. However, the monitoring process will continue in the upcoming period, and the data will be used for further material development and improvement.

Donald Wolfe

Donald’s writings have appeared in HuffPost, Washington Examiner, The Saturday Evening Post, and The Virginian-Pilot, among other publications. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia. He is the Virginian Tribune's Publisher.

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