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Rotterdam: Where the roads will be made of plastic

A visualization of PlasticRoad.A visualization of PlasticRoad.
A visualization of PlasticRoad.Coutesy of VolkerWessels

In the future, streets in the Netherlands might be paved with plastic. According to the Guardian, the Rotterdam City Council is considering testing out a recycled plastic surfacing material, called PlasticRoad, that Dutch construction company VolkerWessels is currently designing.

The plastic roads, make of recycled materials like water bottles, are lighter than asphalt roads, and they’re also hollow, which would make laying pipework underneath them easier. VolkerWessels also says the roads would need less maintenance, last three times as long, and be able to withstand more extreme temperatures than current roads.

Of course, there’s a strong environmental incentive as well. Asphalt contributes about 1.6 million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere each year, and the new roads would be making use of an increasingly common type of waste. Plastic waste is entering global oceans at a rate of about 8 million metric tons each year, according to a recent study released at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting.

Though the roads are still in the design phase, VolkerWessels told the Guardian that the first road could be laid in as little as three years.