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The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has repaved a busy stretch of Highway 162 using recycled plastic bottles.

Source: CBS Sacramento

To make the recycled plastic roads, crews grind up the top 3 inches of old pavement and mix it with a liquid plastic polymer binder made largely from used plastic bottles. This mixture is then placed on top of the road.

Paving one mile of road with the new plastic-asphalt mix recycles about 150,000 plastic bottles and is estimated to last two to three times as long as traditional asphalt. The plastic-asphalt mixture eliminates the need for double layers and saves dozens of truck trips, reducing smog and greenhouse gas emissions.

“We’re excited about introducing a new sustainable technology and helping pave the way for recycled plastics throughout the state,” said Caltrans District 3 Director Amarjeet S. Benipal. “This process is better for the environment because it keeps plastic bottles out of landfills and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.”

Millions of pounds of plastic have ended up landfills across California and in the Pacific Ocean where it breaks apart and harms marine life.

Some environmentalists are concerned that the new roadway would create little bits of microplastics which could enter the state’s waterways.

Caltrans officials plan to monitor and conduct detailed studies on the plastic-asphalt section.

Read more recent news about plastic waste, including birds ingesting plastic wastesquirrels building nests with plastic, and the excess of plastic waste caused by the coronavirus.

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