California Paves First Highway from Recycled Plastic

The California Highway Department has completed the first phase of sustainable paving by using 150,000 recycled plastic bottles mixed with traditional asphalt to pave one-mile of state highway in Oroville. The innovative material was engineered by start-up company TechniSoil. Company president Sean Weaver said the combined materials make for a much stronger and longer lasting road surface. Traditional asphalt relies on rock as the filler, which wears quickly and is prone to crumbling – especially with changing temperatures which can cause potholes and cracks easily. The new material, which is pothole and crack resistant, is anticipated to last up to three times longer than traditional asphalt materials.

The process of creating the new material began by mixing common single-use plastic bottles and other plastic packaging and recycling it back down to its original polymer form. This creates a very strong binder to keep the asphalt intact for a much longer period of time. Weaver also stated the process produces much less waste on site – resulting in fewer trucks hauling materials in and out of the paving project. Another great advantage is the new paving material does not require heat like traditional asphalt, so roads can be paved in cooler temperature’s overnight, which not only saves energy it also causes much less disruption to local traffic.