Plastic wastes that are used in the process of road construction are seeping into the eco-system as micro-plastics and are causing soil pollution.
By Ambalika Banerjee
October 15, 2019, Bengaluru
The use of plastic waste to lay roads harms the environment. Plastic wastes that are used in the process of road construction are seeping into the eco-system as micro-plastics and are causing soil pollution. A study by The Institute of Biology, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany on the Impacts of Microplastics on the soil Bio-physical environment shows how microplastics alter and disturb the relationship between soil and water. The study also points to the impact of microplastic on water holding the capacity of the soil.
Sandeep Anirudhan, co-founder /core team member of United Conservation Movement said, “Every application of plastic ultimately results in the creation of micro-plastic and contaminating our eco-system. The only way to solve the plastic problem is to not manufacture it at all. Plastic is leaching into the land with the process involved in road construction. The methods used for road construction are non-porous with which we are making the top layer of soil not permeable. The rainwater is not seeping into the water table and therefore creating artificial drought. Modern engineering used for our city is harmful and not holistic.”
Plastic wastes are used for road construction by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Bangalore/Bengaluru International Airport, Limited (BIAL) in Bengaluru. Out of a total 13,000 km road network in the city, 70-75% of roads are constructed using plastic waste. Sri. Somashekara S, Chief Engineer of Road infrastructure from BBMP said, “The use of plastic for road construction has been in practice for over a decade now. The process is eco-friendly as it is helping to curb the problem of plastic in the city. Though the procedure involved in road construction with plastic waste in a bit expensive, however, the use of plastic results in more durable roads. By the end of this year, we have plans to cover a stretch of 300-400km of road construction using this technique.”
As per Indian Road Congress guidelines of using plastic for road, the building includes the usage of a certain specific type of plastic from the plastic group of family. The group of plastic suggested to be used for the pavement construction includes Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE), High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE), PET and Polyurethane. The process includes shredding of the said plastic-type into a specific size and mixing them to a 140-175 degree heated bituminous mix.
KK Plastic Waste Management Ltd. has the patented procedure for reusing the plastic waste in asphalting of roads. Mr. K Rasool Khan, director of KK Plastic waste management Ltd. said, “Use of plastic helps in the binding procedure and it increases the life of a road. Plastic is non-bio-degradable however use of it in road construction, reduces the life of plastic. Plastic should not be banned as it is economical than other alternatives and we will use this for road construction all over India.”
Plastic roads aim at being environment-friendly and create green road by helping plastic issue in the city but the effect of it on the environment is in question.