The first-ever highway partially made of reclaimed plastic was inaugurated in Mexico on Nov. 13.
The 2.5-mile stretch of highway in the state of Guanajuato in central Mexico used 1.7 tons of recycled plastic, or the equivalent of 425,000 plastic packaging units, according to Dow Plastics Technology Mexico.
“The advantage of using recycled plastic products is that they can be used on all types of highways, not only in high-performance products, which can extend the life span of any paved road,” Paula Sans, Dow Mexico’s director of packaging and specialty plastics, said in a release.
The newly paved stretch of highway connects the cities of Irapuato and Cuerámaro. The area is home to dozens of foreign and domestic factories, including automakers General Motors and Ford and food giant General Mills.
The plastic asphalt was created by a group of companies including Dow, Vise Construction, Surfax engineering-construction, technology firm Lasfalto and plastics recycler Omnigree. The highway project was supported by Mexico’s Federal Communications and Transportation Secretariat (SCT).
“Demonstrating that highways made from high-performance modified asphalts using recycled plastic material can be accomplished is a step forward to develop applications based on a circular economy business model — to provide a solution to the growing concern regarding the handling of plastic waste,” Sans said.
She said Dow plans to do more tests with the use of modified asphalt to be able to apply the technology on larger-scale projects. Neither Dow or the SCT commented on the cost of the project.
The plastic asphalt project is the first in Mexico, but the concept has been tested on roads in Los Angeles as well as countries such as South Africa, Scotland and the Philippines.