Work has officially commenced on the country’s very first plastic road in Eastern Cape’s Kouga Municipality.

Installation of stormwater pipes has begun and this step is expected to reach completion in the next three months.

The idea of a plastic road was first mooted by the DA-led municipality in 2016, with the project officially receiving approval at the start of 2019.

Horatio Hendricks, executive mayor of Kouga Municipality, said local authority had entered in a partnership with Scottish company MacRebur and South African civil engineering experts to build ‘the first plastic road’ in Jeffrey’s Bay.

“The backlog in road repairs for our region is estimated to be more than R500-million. While Kouga is strong financially, we simply do not have the rates base to deal with this backlog decisively,” Hendricks said.

How it’s made

According to MacRebur’s website, its products are made using materials derived from non-recyclable waste plastic that was destined for landfill or incineration.

“By extending part of the bitumen in the mix MacRebur products reduce fossil fuel usage, leading to a reduction in carbon footprint and helping to foster a circular economy.

“With each km of road laid using our MR products, we use up the equivalent weight of 684,000 bottles or 1.8 million one time use plastic bags. 1 tonne of MacRebur mix contains the equivalent of 80,000 plastic bottles.”

Vicky Knoetze, a member of the Eastern Cape Legislature, said what MacRebur offered was an enhancement of the asphalt mix traditionally used for the top layer of roads.

“Non-recyclable plastic waste, which ends up in the ocean or clogging up landfill sites, is processed into pellets and used to replace a large component of the bitumen in a conventional asphalt mix.

“The result is a road that is stronger and more durable. Water, the main cause of potholes, does not penetrate it as easily as with traditional asphalt mixes and it is also more heat resistant,” she said.

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