China’s first ‘plastic road’ project
China’s first ever “plastic road” project was unveiled last month (April 2021) at East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST) Xuhui Campus. Used milk bottles were utilized to construct a road made with recycled plastic, giving hard-to-recycle plastic a second life. This was a collaboration with Dow and Shiny Meadow.
Shiny Meadow is a high-end fresh milk brand in China and Dow (NYSE: DOW) Dow is a global company with a portfolio of plastics, industrial intermediates, coatings and silicone businesses delivering a broad range of differentiated science-based products and solutions for its customers. These include market segments such as packaging, infrastructure, mobility and consumer care.
The “Milk Bottle Road” was enabled by Dow’s ELVALOY™ RET asphalt modification technology, more than 6,000 used milk bottles and other plastic wastes were used to pave the polymer-modified asphalt (PMA) road. Roads made with PMA demonstrate excellent performance and durability as compared to conventional neat asphalt.
Dow’s collaboration with Shiny Meadow is among one of the many that reflect its commitment to stop plastic waste through various partnerships in Asia Pacific. Dow began improving roads with recycled plastic in Depok City, Indonesia in 2017 to help the Indonesian government reach its goal of reducing plastic waste in the ocean by 70 percent by 2025. Following that trial project’s success, Dow turned its attention to India, where it worked with KK Plastic Waste Management, Ltd., Rudra Environmental Solutions and two local governments to implement roads improved by plastic in the cities of Pune and Bangalore. Most recently, Dow began a collaboration with Siam Cement Group in Thailand to begin improving asphalt roads with plastic.
Recyclers are often reluctant to recycle milk bottles and take in such waste due to the high rate of contamination caused by leftover milk residue. To help dairy brands like Shiny Meadow give plastic milk bottles a new purpose, Dow presented an innovative solution with its materials science and technology expertise, in which such hard-to-recycle plastic is collected and used to produce PMA postconsumer recycled plastic for roads and other pavements. By doing so, plastic waste is kept out of the environment, and the reduction in the use of bitumen as well as the potential service life extension of the roads will in turn reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption.
Bambang Candra, Asia Pacific commercial vice president, Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics said “hard-to-recycle plastic is often discarded in landfills and waterways without consideration for its value in other applications. The importance of plastic must be an impetus for brand owners, recyclers and other value chain partners to prevent it from being lost as waste.Using our materials science expertise, we help bring a new purpose to waste bottles. Our work with Shiny Meadow to create roads using their recycled plastic milk bottles has proven to be a success, and we hope to empower other brand owners to reduce plastic waste.”
Lin Rong, brand director of Shiny Meadow added,”we are pleased to have found a meaningful use for our empty bottles. At Shiny Meadow, we uphold the vision of a more sustainable earth, and this includes ensuring that the plastic products we use have a circular journey instead of the traditional take-make-use path. While we are already using recyclable packaging materials in our production, there remains a gap in addressing the bottles’ end-of-life as low-quality plastic products are unvalued by recycling companies. In promoting recycled plastic content for roads, Dow has provided us with a solution that will go a long way.”
“The University is delighted to see the construction of the “Milk Bottle Road” come to fruition today. As a tertiary institution focused on science and innovation, this collaboration gives us an actualized example of how we can tackle plastic waste in unique ways. We hope that this inspires our students to explore more unconventional solutions in the area of sustainability, and to bring their creative applications to an even greater scale within our community,” said Prof. Li Tao, vice president of East China University of Science and Technology (ECUST).
Source: pictures courtesy of Shiny Meadow and ECUST