Up to two tonnes of plastic pellets will make its way to Jeffreys Bay over the next few weeks, all for the construction of the first “plastic” or eco-friendly road in Africa.
Kouga Municipality last week officially launched the plastic road trial, the first of its kind on the African continent.
“We are very excited to be piloting this eco-friendly approach to building roads,” said Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks.
“If it is a success, it could spell the end of potholes, help to create jobs for local communities and address waste plastic pollution, which has become a serious concern across the globe.”
Gareth Nel, from MacRebur South Africa, said the pellets would be delivered to an asphalt manufacturer in Port Elizabeth.
“The product will be shipped ready to be added into the asphalt mix. The aggregate and bitumen that are still required to make up the asphalt will be purchased in South Africa.
“The asphalt manufacturer will then add the MacRebur product into the mix at the same time as the bitumen, as per the standard manufacturing process,” he said.
Mayor Hendricks said that while the product currently had to be imported, the municipality would like to see a factory being established locally if the trial is a success.
“The project has incredible job creation potential. Not only will people be employed at the factory, there will also be an increase in demand for people to collect waste plastic for processing by the factory.
“We would like to thank MacRebur SA, SP Excel and Scribante Construction for joining hands with Kouga to roll out the project in Jeffreys Bay,” he said.
Association of Commonwealth Universities fellow and Strathclyde University (Glasgow) researcher Steve Allen told Dispatch Live that he could not imagine that it would be a good idea to use plastic in roads construction.
“The concept of using waste plastic in road construction is quite new and there have not been any long-term studies that I know of with regard to releasing of microplastics and any environmental effects.
“While I applaud the effort to prevent plastics entering landfill, I feel it is perhaps best achieved by stopping the creation of unnecessary plastic waste in the first place.”
Algoa Bay Wildlife and Environmental Society of SA chair Gary Koekemoer said: “From a recycling point of view, it makes sense that we find a sustainable use for plastic. There would, however, be a need to research if there would be any leaking.
“If it can be done in a way that doesn’t affect the environment, it makes sense.”