To say that Plastic waste is a major environmental and public health problem across the world, is an understatement today. Plastic shopping or carrier bags are one of the biggest sources of plastic waste – leading to problems of misuse, overuse and littering. Besides the visual pollution of coloured plastic ‘thelis’ dotting landscapes across the country, plastic bag waste also contributes to blockage of drains - a threat to aquatic life when they find their way to water bodies, and can cause deaths when consumed by livestock. Burning plastic substances releases toxic heavy metals and emits noxious gasses like dioxins and furans. They are the most toxic and poisonous substances on earth and can cause a variety of health problems including damage to the reproductive and immune system, respiratory difficulties and cancer.

As of 2015, approximately 6300 MMT of plastic waste had been generated, around 79% of which was accumulated in landfills or the natural environment. (Source: ET)

Land filling of plastics into properly designed disposal sites takes up valuable room in the site for a non-toxic, non-leachable, non-decomposable material. Whether plastic is a menace or not depends how we use it and how we dispose of it minimizing the impacts on the environment.

Jamshedpur Utilities and Services Company (JUSCO) decided to do something about this, innovatively – i.e. reuse plastic and leverage technology to find a permanent solution to this growing non-biodegradable waste issue – by building Plastic Tar Roads.

Imagine having roads that do not get pot-holes, do not soak water, are cheaper to build, eco-friendly and last for 5-10 years without maintenance? This is exactly what has been achieved by the JUSCO team with the support of Dr. Vasudevan and his patented technology to reutilise waste plastic to build these roads – “Roads constructed with one-part plastic wastes to nine parts of bitumen or tar have double eco-benefits – reuse of hazardous plastic, which could have otherwise clogged drains, caused flooding or ended up in landfills and incinerators. And a longer-lasting, low maintenance, recyclable, water resistant road that uses less tar – which itself is a petroleum product”, he says.

As a part of their initial experiment, JUSCO set up a team to go door-to-door and collect the threat (waste plastics) from the source, they segregated the waste and shredded it into 2-4mm size and mixed the shredded plastic to make a coating over the aggregates used for road construction. This provides the road a tremendous strength at no extra cost. Plastic gets coated over stone, the hot plastic-coated stone is mixed with bitumen (tar) and the mix is used for road laying. The result? The road leading up to the circuit house, in Jamshedpur, that looks like any other black top avenue – but for the road sign that says it was made from plastic.

It is when corporates work with such synergy, and leverage pioneering technology, that enables progressive thinking and change in challenging times. Marine litter alone accounts for 60-80% of plastics. It’s one thing to reduce plastic waste with a ‘no plastics rule’ but what’s also crucial is better ways to ‘clean-up the act’. Perhaps plastic roads will lead the way.


Created with images by: JUSCO • uniquedesign52 • Prylarer

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