It is a known fact that waste generated from discarded plastic items is hazardous to the environment, but what is seldom known is that waste plastic can also be utilised in constructing roads in the city. The Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) recently repaired half a km of the road outside Hutchings High School near Old Golibar Maidan.
Best out of waste: At least 90 per cent of bitumen is amalgamated with 10 per cent of plastic waste such as carry bags, biscuit and gutka packets. PIc/Krunal Gosavi
This was done by integrating plastic with tar known as polymer-modified bitumen, thus making good use of discarded plastic and preventing further damage to the environment. This move has been carried out with the advocacy of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to prevent the persistent problem of potholes on the roads and to increase the resistance to water at a lower construction cost.
New initiative PCB Vice President, Prasad Kedari said, "It's comparatively cheaper than the usual road making cost and since it is on a trial basis we are planning to carry it out on roads that are not used extensively. This is our new initiative." Such road constructions were earlier carried out in the South and this is the first time it has been experimented in the city. "By using plastic we are recycling it and preventing further damage to the environment," he added.
According to the contractors, 90 per cent of bitumen is amalgamated with 10 per cent of plastic that includes everyday waste ranging from carry bags to miscellaneous items like biscuit and gutka packets. These products are shredded into small pieces and mixed with the liquid before laying it on the road. Contractors say that the cost of the entire process is not more than Rs 325 per metre.
"Even if 10 per cent plastic is mixed, it could save up to the equivalent quantity of bitumen. We'll have to wait and see if it provides any better results," said R Khetarpal, the contractor who has undertaken the project. If the project is successful then the board that holds eight wards including Ghorpadi, Market Yard and MG road in the Cantonment area, covering almost 20 km of the road, will repair all roads with polymer-modified bitumen.
Is plastic better? Plastic-cum-tar roads is 25 per cent better than unmodified roads and is almost 200 per cent resistant to soaking up water. The maintenance cost of the road is very low, while its durability is high. The roads reportedly need no repairing for at least five years.