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Old computer parts used for 'sustainable' Coventry roads

Night roadworks

Hard-to-recycle plastics such as computer keyboards and monitors are being crushed into Coventry roads as part of a trial to cut plastic pollution and carbon emissions.

Two roads in the city have been resurfaced with material using two types of plastic pellets as a binding agent instead of bitumen, a fossil fuel traditionally used in road resurfacing.

Another section of road has been resurfaced with “rubber crumbs” from old vehicle tyres. Each section will be monitored over the next few years for signs of wear and tear, but the council believes the plastic and rubber roads will be more hard-wearing than traditional asphalt, which has a high carbon footprint.

Coventry City Council head of highways Neil Cowper told New Civil Engineer that officials got the idea from trials carried out by Cumbria County Council.

“Cumbria were probably the first to give it a whirl, and we’re probably the second council to try it,” said Cowper.

“It’s not so much plastic bottles as things like computer keyboards and monitors – the really tough to recycle plastics.”

Engineering firms are already experimenting with plastic roads. VolkerWessels subsidiary KWS, Dutch manufacturer Wavin and petrochemical firm Total have been trialling recycled plastic waste to create a road with a smaller ecological footprint than traditional road systems.

Although Cowper declined to provide an exact cost, he said the difference between the more environmentally friendly roads and bitumen-based road surfaces was “relatively cost neutral”.

Cowper hopes that other councils across the UK will start to use alternative materials to resurface roads, helping to reduce costs further.

Coventry City Council is aiming to roll out the plastic or rubber-based materials on roads across the city.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Won't the plastic and rubber grind down in to microplastics which will be washed down the the surface water drains, into the rivers that flow into the sea, be filtered by sea creatures and ultimately end up in the food chain?

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