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Vancouver paves its roads with recycled plastic

Posting in Cities

In Vancouver, the road to a greener city is paved with plastic.

The city is now using recycled plastic in its road paving process. The new process not only reuses plastic items like milk jugs or shampoo containers, it also uses less fuel, The Vancouver Sun explains:

The city has worked with GreenMantra of Toronto to develop the granular, waxlike material that's added to asphalt. The material allows the asphalt to flow smoothly at a much lower temperature, which saves on the cost of fuel to heat the asphalt and reduces the amount of vapours released into the atmosphere, according to Peter Judd, the city's general manager of engineering services. [...]

Traditional hot-mix asphalt needs to be heated to about 140 to 160 degrees C to flow onto the road surface. By adding the recycled plastic, the temperature can be reduced by up to 40 C, Judd said.

"What that means is that you use about 20 per cent less fuel to heat the asphalt up," Judd said in an interview. "It's an enormous saving in greenhouse gases."

Using plastic does add about one to three percent to road building costs, but the city thinks the costs will even out as fuel prices increase.

Using plastics in the road building process is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a modest 300 tonnes, but the initiative is part of a much larger goal of the city to become the greenest city in the world by 2020. Here's how the city is doing so far.

Plastics in asphalt mix part of Vancouver’s ‘greenest city’ push [The Vancouver Sun]

Photo: Flickr/steena

— By on November 28, 2012, 3:54 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure