The world's first bike path made of recycled plastic was revealed in the Netherlands on 11th September 2018. PlasticRoad represents the growing shift among businesses and cities towards a closed loop or circular economy, which requires reusing products and producing no waste.
A collaborative effort between engineering firm KWS, pipe maker Wavin and French oil major Total, the 30 metre track in the Dutch city of Zwolle, features prefabricated sections which are lightweight, easy to transport and fast to install. PlasticRoad also has a hollow space which gives room for cables and pipes and also facilitates improved water drainage in the case of heavy rain fall. The small 30m bike path contains recycled plastic equivalent to over 218,000 plastic cups or 500,000 plastic bottle caps. Check out a video from manufacturer Wavin to find out more on the path's construction.
PlasticRoad is also equipped with sensors to monitor the road’s performance, including temperature, the number of bike passages and the durability of the road. With these sensors, PlasticRoad is the first smart bike path in the world. A second PlasticRoad bike path will be opened in Giethoorn later this year and the partners are also scouting new locations to launch subsequent locations to test other applications of the PlasticRoad, such as footpaths, parking lots and train platforms.
Not all are totally convinced on the idea, Emma Priestland, campaigner with Friends of the Earth, is quoted as saying the solution to plastic pollution lay in preventing its unnecessary use in the first place. "Using plastic to make bicycle paths may help to keep plastics out of landfill... but it's still unclear what happens to this plastic as the surface of the path is worn away" she said in a statement.
Fortunately, the Netherlands is also pioneering the avoidance of plastic, specifically on the food packaging front. Earlier this year, the world's first plastic packaging free aisle debuted in a popular Dutch organic grocer in Amsterdam.
Over 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced globally each year, with only approximately ten percent of that being recycled. Of the plastic that is disposed, an estimated seven million tons ends up in the sea with the rest making it to landfill or being incinerated. Me-Mover Australia applaud the initiative, believing the prevention of plastic waste from reaching our oceans and landfill is beneficial and the concept is a positive step towards a circular use of resources. We can't wait to go Me-Moving on a PlasticRoad here in Australia in the future.