A PLASTIC-COMPOSITE ROADS PILOT PROJECT
Municipalities have historically used asphalt to lay as well as repair roads. This solidified oily mixture, a petroleum by-product, covers over 40 million kilometers of roads worldwide.
While asphalt provides a ready solution to building and fixing roads, it has a short lifespan under inclement conditions. In addition, it increases the carbon footprint of a city. Its widespread use means that, as with virtually all things petroleum, the world is addicted to asphalt. That includes Canada, and of course, Ottawa.
Plastics, on the other hand, need no introduction. They are ubiquitous, impervious to inclement environmental conditions and non-biodegradable. In addition, since China gave notice that it will no longer receive the world's plastics for recycling
, what to do with them has become a question begging for an answer. An election campaign is the right setting to propose possible answers.
Considering, firstly, how inclement Ottawa's winters can be and the obstacle course of potholes we all navigate come every spring; secondly, the amount of plastic the residents of our city discard even in just a single day [we know Torontonians discard 800 tonnes of plastic - daily
]; and thirdly, our unquestionable desire to be good environmental stewards, perhaps the time has come to combine our problems in order to create a solution.
Far from being outlandish, plastic-asphalt composite and pure plastic roads are becoming today’s idea, not tomorrow’s.
For example, VolkerWessels
, a company based in the Netherlands, has developed hollow plastic roads the manufacture of which produce less carbon emissions compared to regular asphalt.
A Scottish company, MacRebur
, has developed a process for supplementing asphalt with pellets made from recycled plastic.
The City of Vancouver began a pilot project
using a similar mix as early as 2012.
My proposal would see Ottawa engage in its own pilot project, utilizing only locally sourced, mostly household plastic. Let's think "outside the (blue) box", assess for pros and cons, and see whether or not this solution is the right fit for Ottawa. Given the facts above, what would be really outlandish would be to do nothing.