Usually, we don’t think of big chemical producers as the hero. But a leading chemical company seems to be doing something right with their latest initiative to keep plastic garbage out of landfills.
One of the world’s largest chemical companies, Dow Chemical, is working to reduce their environmental impact by turning plastic waste into roads. Their combined efforts have saved 220,000 pounds of waste from ending up in landfills and oceans, and they plan to save a whole lot more.
It all started when Indonesia, the world’s second-largest contributor to marine plastic pollution, reached out to Dow Chemical for a solution to its problem. So the company helped show the Indonesians how to convert their plastic into roads.
Typically, road surfaces would be done with just asphalt and concrete, but Dow Chemical has somehow figured out a way to combine regular asphalt with ground-up recycled plastic to produce a substance that’s even better than the usual stuff that’s used to make roads.
Dow Chemical began their recycling efforts in 2017 when they launched several pilot programs to test the plastic roads in Indonesia and India. So far, those roads have been an enormous success, with Thailand following in Indonesia’s footsteps.
Because American states have more restrictive requirements for new roads in comparison to Indonesia, it has proven difficult to facilitate the recycling program in America, but Dow recently finished two new plastic roads in Freeport, Texas using 1,686 pounds of recycled low-density polyethylene plastic
In addition to reducing pollution, plastic roads are also more durable than those built with asphalt. Dow says that the plastic roads are more resistant to erosion from weather and vehicles, reducing the number of potholes formed over time.
The stuff is much better at enduring wild temperature swings from as low as -40 F to as high as +176 F, which might allow it to last up to three times longer than regular concrete alone.
Dow says its new roads are made with a combination of asphalt and plastic, but it won’t reveal the exact percentage of each material.
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