Vancouver paves roads with plastic in bid for greener streets
The City of Vancouver demonstrates a new made-in-Vancouver paving process that uses recycled plastic such as milk jugs, shampoo bottles and ice-cream tubs. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)
Those plastic bottles littering the streets of Vancouver may soon find a place inside the roads themselves.
On Thursday morning, a city crew paved a stretch of Kingsway near Slocan with a unique asphalt recipe developed by city staff that uses a key ingredient of recycled plastics.
The city, looking for ways to cut emissions associated with paving, contracted the Toronto-based GreenMantra Technologies to distill low-value plastics into a pebble-sized material that feels much like crayon wax.
Peter Judd, the city’s general manager of engineering services, said the waxy mixture allows for asphalt to be paved at much lower temperatures, meaning less impact on the environment.
“We’re using about 20% less fuel in the asphalt than we would otherwise be using,” he said. “So it’s an enormous savings in fuel costs and an enormous savings in greenhouse gases.”
Warm-mix asphalt isn’t a new concept, but Vancouver is the first to incorporate recyclable plastics into the recipe.
Although the waxy material makes up just 1% of the asphalt blend, Judd noted the city would save 300 tonnes of green house gases annually if it switched to the new formula for all its paving.
But the mixture comes with a price tag that is 3 % higher than conventional asphalt.
“It’s a relatively small amount to pay when you consider the enormous savings in greenhouse gases,” Judd said, adding the new mix is also noticeably less smelly.