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In a groundbreaking, market-leading initiative, Shisalanga Construction – a majority owned subsidiary of Raubex Group Limited – has paved a South African road using a locally recycled plastic compound as part of the asphalt formula ingredient.

On Friday, 2 August 2019, the South African recycled plastic road paving trial was successfully completed in Cliffdale, KwaZulu-Natal, in the presence of representatives from Sanral, the Department of Transport and eThekwini Municipality, who witnessed this watershed occasion.

Two critical challenges exist in South Africa, one being an abundance of plastic waste and the other, damaged roads. Shisalanga has combined these two challenges to produce the maiden recycled plastic paved road in Africa.

“We have been working on this project for some years now and while the technology is in use in India, parts of Europe and in the USA, no one has successfully applied the solution in our country, until now,” says Deane Koekemoer, managing director, Shisalanga Construction.

“This process is not an easy one. I am incredibly proud of our team for achieving this milestone with limited international support,” he continues.

“We are proudly South African and part of one of the largest road construction companies in the country. The successful completion of this trial is a forerunner of great things to come from Shisalanga and we expect to extend this product throughout the country.”

Finding sustainable solutions

The extremely poor condition of many of South Africa’s primary and secondary roads demands an immediate and long-lasting solution. Local communities use these roads to get to market, work, clinics and school every day, and deserve roads that are safe and well maintained.

On the other end of the scale, there is a pressing need to recycle plastic waste in South Africa to minimise waste to landfill and reduce other environmental threats.

Wynand Nortje, technical manager, Shisalanga, confirms: “Shisalanga is the first South African company to successfully complete an application of recycled plastic road by utilising a binding agent that has unique properties and, through this, creating a usable and durable solution for the road construction industry.”

The type and quality of the recycled HDPE plastic is critical to ensuring that the binding process is successful. The recycled plastic is readily available from South African recyclers and provides an appropriate use in this road construction application – ensuring locally generated waste, and not an imported material, is used.

Shisalanga has a proven track record of innovation, leading the way with the introduction of steel slag manufactured asphalt – also a first in South Africa. A cost-competitive solution to conventional UTFC (ultra thin friction course), this product is the preferred choice for asphalt manufacture on the N3, one of the busiest road corridors in South Africa.

“The introduction of our plastic asphalt solution is yet another incredible South African success story!” Koekemoer concludes.   

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