Stephen Hawking,the renowned scientist aptly quoted, “We are in the danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity.We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.”This sums up the tendency of materialism and pleasure seekness of human beings even at the cost of the mother earth.Environmental pollution is a frankenstein’s monster that is growing bigger and bigger and Plastic waste is just a small piece of it.
Plastic waste is a huge threat to the environment. In 2005, after monsoon rains flooded Mumbai, plastic bags were blamed for clogging the underground drainage system and intensifying the effect of the floods. In areas frequented by tourists, like Goa, heavy consumption of bottled water has resulted in trash on beaches, creating eyesores and endangering marine life. Even India’s cows, considered sacred, have not been spared. After 3,000 cows died in Lucknow in 2000, the city investigated and found plastic bags in their stomachs. Apparently the bags had been ingested as the animals grazed at dump sites.With more than 35 tons of plastic waste generated by every Indian state, each day India is confronted with the big question of how to get rid of this non-biodegradable menace.
PLASTIC ROADS:CAN HUMANS DRIVE THE PLASTIC OUT OF NATURE?
Plastic used in road construction is not new. It is already in use as PVC or HDPE pipe mat crossings built by cabling together PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or HDPE (high-density poly-ethylene) pipes to form plastic mats. The plastic roads include transition mats to ease the passage of tyres up to and down from the crossing. Both options help protect wetland haul roads from rutting by distributing the load across the surface. But the use of plastic-waste has been a concern for scientists and engineers for a quite long time.
Plastic roads were first introduced by Prof.R.Vasudevan.It was patented and then laid for the first time in Jamshedpur in 2011 by Government of India.Recent studies in this direction have shown some hope in terms of using plastic-waste in road construction i.e.Plastic roads. Plastic is mixed with the bitumen. Plastic increases the melting point of the bitumen and makes the road retain its flexibility during winters resulting in its long life. Use of shredded plastic waste acts as a strong “binding agent” for tar making the asphalt last long. By mixing plastic with bitumen the ability of the bitumen to withstand high temperature increases.The pros of plastic roads are:it gives all weather and wear resistance roads , it uses tonnes and tonnes of plastic in its production which is an eco-friendly approach.This also saves the the cost of road laying by around 8% when compared to conventional methods. Another important observation is that the bituminous mixes prepared using the treated binder with the inclusion of plastic could withstand adverse soaking conditions under water for longer duration. Plastic roads are testament to the fact that Science can lead to betterment of life and also environment if both are senn through the same prism.
ADVANTAGES OF PLASTIC ROAD:
- Road strength is twice stronger than normal roads;
- Resistance towards water stagnation i.e. no potholes are formed;
- Less bleeding during summer;
- Burning of plastics waste could be avoided;
- It doesn’t involve any extra machinery;
- It doesn’t increase cost of road construction; and
- It helps to reduce the consumption of bituminous mix vis-à-vis reduce cost.
Economics of Road Construction :
Roads play a key role in the countries growth and development.Roads bring accessibility to amenities and economic prosperity.Roads simulate the educational,health and employment services which are the most essential options to eradicate the poverty of nation.In a country like India where the population is sky high , the roads are indispensable as they transport goods and passengers of huge multitudes.In India which has geographically diverse terrain ,roads are the most convenient modes of and possible modes of transportation.
As per the studies done by Prof.Vasudevan and his team,We can save Rs.45,000 per Km by using Plastic as a binder with Bitumen.Some of the added advantages of the Plastic roads over conventional roads are also immensely helpful.The durability of the roads laid out with shredded plastic waste is much more compared with roads with asphalt with the ordinary mix. The binding property of plastic makes the road last longer besides giving added strength to withstand more loads. While a normal ‘highway quality’ road lasts four to five years it is claimed that plastic-bitumen roads can last up to 10 years. Rainwater will not seep through because of the plastic in the tar. So, this technology will result in lesser road repairs. And as each km of road with an average width requires over two tones of polyblend, using plastic will help reduce non-biodegradable waste. The cost of plastic road construction may be slightly higher compared to the conventional method. However, this should not deter the adoption of the technology as the benefits are much higher than the cost. Plastic roads would be a boon for India’s hot and extremely humid climate, where temperatures frequently cross 50°C and torrential rains create havoc, leaving most of the roads with big potholes.
Honourable PM Narendra Modi has vowed to envision the dream of Swach Bharat seen by M.K.Gandhi and turn it into reality.Numerous efforts such as Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, rallies,campaigns and his individual efforts on Mammalapuram beach which went viral as “Plogging” are really laudable. The government of India is keen on encouraging the setting up of small plants for mixing waste plastic and bitumen for road construction.
“THE CHOICES THAT WE MAKE TODAY WILL DEFINE OUR COLLECTIVE FUTURE. LET US ALL JOIN TOGETHER TO BEAT PLASTIC POLLUTION AND MAKE THIS PLANET A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE.“