Innovation That Matters

The parking lot was the first test of the New End Market Opportunities (NEMO) research project | Photo source LyondellBasell

Plastics recycled into paved roads

Property & Construction

A plastics consortium has developed a way to turn single-use plastics into paving material for roads


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Spotted: The Plastics Industry Association (PIA) and plastic manufacturer LyondellBasell have recently announced that they have developed a way to turn recycled polyethylene (rPE) into paving material. They have successfully used the equivalent of 71,000 plastic retail bags to pave 2,885 square yards of the LyondellBasell parking lot in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The parking lot was the first test of the New End Market Opportunities (NEMO) research project, funded by the Plastics Industry Association and the National Center for Asphalt Technology, which seeks to, “explore using post-consumer recycled PE films as polymer additives in asphalt binder”. The project has developed a formulation that uses recycled PE films as binders in asphalt, instead of virgin polymers.

For around 70 years, polymers have been added to asphalt to create a more durable and damage-resistant mix. But up to now, asphalt manufacturers have been using virgin polyethylene as a binder. The NEMO formulation of asphalt binder uses what is termed the “Dry Process”. In this process, recycled PE is incorporated into the asphalt as a solid additive. 

The new formulation offers many of the same benefits of traditional polymer-modified asphalt, including improved performance, and increased lifespan, at a decreased cost, and could also reduce the cost of polymer modified asphalt as well as reducing CO2 emissions. According to PIA President and CEO Tony Radoszewski: “Through this unique project, the LyondellBasell team demonstrates how all plastic can and should be used to its highest potential.”

Recycling plastics is a major concern today, and we have seen this in the increasing number of innovations aimed at reducing the use of virgin plastics and reusing already-existing plastics. Some recent ideas covered at Springwise include compostable vacuum-seal bags and plastic PPE made from food waste.

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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