Zermatt has come up with an innovative way to make the resort more environmentally friendly, by repairing their roads with an asphalt/plastic mix.
A Scottish company is making a contribution to the plastic waste problem with a new type of road surface: it mixes the waste into the road.
Recently this was put this into practice in Zermatt.
The award-winning Scottish company MacRebur has created a new technology that allows plastic waste to be mixed into the road.
“For our asphalt mixture we use plastic garbage intended for landfilling or incineration. We use the plastic to make a tough road surface,” explained Nick Burnett, co-founder of MacRebur Limited.
16000 tons of plastic could be reused
This new type of surfacing could make a significant contribution to the plastic waste problem, says Lily Poulikakos, from the Federal Materials Testing and Research Institute. “In Switzerland we produce 6.5 million tons of asphalt every year. And if we blended in plastic, we could use up 16,000 tons of plastic.”
The use of plastic has minimum risk of contamination for the local environment as the plastic is encased and cannot be released, according to Poulikakos.
Designed to survive from very hot to very cold
What is certain is that in Zermatt, the new surface will be tested to the extreme. Temperatures in this iconic Swiss resort can vary from -20˚C to +30˚C across the year and the seasons.
Burnett sees no problem in this: “The surface is very resilient. We have made it so that it can withstand the expected temperatures here in summer and winter.”
More flexible and durable
According to the MacRebur, the asphalt should be even more flexible and durable thanks to the plastic additive. This means the freeze/thaw conditions in the winter that can lead to cracking and potholes will be less likely to occur. The pilot project in Zermatt will show if this is really the case.
Toby McCartney, CEO of MacRebur, said: “We hope this road will be the first step towards opening our first factory in Switzerland and it is an excellent opportunity to show the performance of our roads.
The asphalt was produced by Ulrich Imboden AG and laid by Pierre Pistorius, Zermatt Gemeinde.
Only 10% of plastic is recycled
We live on a planet on which more than 400 million tonnes of plastic are produced worldwide every year, of which less than 10% is recycled, so innovative schemes such as this will become more and more important.
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