Plastic Roads in Asia: Current Implementations and Should It Be Considered?
2. Research Rationale and Methodology
2.1. The Planning Phases
2.2. Data Source and Search Strategy
2.3. Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria
2.4. Data Extraction and Synthesis
3. Plastic Roads Construction in Asian Countries
3.1. Expansion of Plastic Road Idea in Asia
- Collection and Sorting: Waste plastics, such as plastic bags, bottles, and packaging materials, are collected from various sources, including recycling centers, waste management facilities, and consumer collections. These plastics may undergo sorting to separate different types and remove any contaminants.
- Shredding and Granulation: The collected plastics are then shredded into smaller pieces or granulated into small pellets. This process helps reduce the plastic waste into a manageable size for incorporation into the asphalt mixture.
- Mixing with Asphalt: The shredded or granulated plastic pieces are mixed with hot bitumen, which is the binder material used in asphalt. The heat softens the plastic and allows it to blend homogeneously with the bitumen. The plastic content in the mixture can vary depending on the specific requirements and desired performance of the plastic-modified asphalt.
- Mixing with Aggregates: The plastic-modified bitumen is further mixed with aggregates, such as crushed stone or gravel, to create the final asphalt mixture. This mixture combines the properties of traditional asphalt with the benefits provided by the incorporation of plastic waste.
- Paving and Compaction: The plastic-modified asphalt mixture is then transported to the construction site and laid down on the prepared road surface using conventional paving equipment. The mixture is spread and compacted to achieve the desired thickness and smoothness.
- Road Application: After compaction, the plastic-modified asphalt forms a durable and flexible road surface, similar to conventional asphalt roads. The plastic content in the mixture enhances the strength, stability, and resistance to cracking, thereby improving the overall performance of the road.
- Southern Asia
- Sri Lanka
- Western Asia
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)
- Eastern Asia
- South Korea
- Central Asia
- South-Eastern Asia
3.2. Difference between Polymer-Modified Asphalt and Plastic-Modified Asphalt
- Polymer-modified asphalt: Polymer-modified asphalt refers to asphalt mixtures where polymers, such as styrene-butadiene-styrene (SBS) or styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR), are added to the asphalt binder. These polymers are usually derived from synthetic rubber or thermoplastic materials. The polymer content in polymer-modified asphalt is typically higher than that of plastic-modified asphalt.
- Purpose: The addition of polymers is aimed at improving the performance characteristics of the asphalt. Polymers enhance elasticity, flexibility, and resistance to deformation and cracking, making the asphalt binder more durable and able to withstand heavy traffic loads and harsh weather conditions.
- Properties: Polymer-modified asphalt exhibits improved rutting resistance, reduced cracking, and increased elasticity compared to conventional asphalt. It also offers enhanced adhesion to aggregates and improved resistance to moisture damage.
- Application: Polymer-modified asphalt is commonly used in high-stress areas such as intersections, heavy traffic zones, and airports. It is also employed in regions with extreme climates where asphalt durability is crucial.
- Plastic-modified asphalt: Plastic-modified asphalt, as discussed earlier, involves incorporating waste plastics, such as plastic bags, bottles, and packaging materials, into the asphalt mixture.
- Purpose: The primary objective of adding plastic waste to the asphalt is waste management and recycling. By incorporating plastics into roads, it offers a sustainable solution for plastic waste disposal, reducing landfill usage and environmental pollution.
- Properties: Plastic-modified asphalt exhibits improved resistance to cracking, better durability, and reduced moisture susceptibility compared to conventional asphalt. The plastic content helps enhance the strength and stability of the road surface.
- Application: Plastic-modified asphalt is suitable for various road applications, including highways, urban roads, and residential streets. It is considered a greener alternative to conventional asphalt and is particularly relevant in regions with significant plastic waste generation.
4. Considering Plastic Roads in Asian Countries
4.1. Plastic-Modified Asphalt
4.2. Consideration Aspects
- Governmental policies
- Stakeholders’ perspectives
- Geographical characteristics
- Supply of raw materials and manpower
5. Environmental and Human Health Adverse Effects of Plastic Roads
5.1. Adverse Effects on the Environment and Human Health
5.2. Limited Risk Assessments
- Waste management: Plastic roads provide a sustainable solution for managing plastic waste by repurposing it into road construction materials. This helps reduce plastic pollution and landfill usage.
- Improved road performance: Plastic-modified asphalt can enhance the durability, flexibility, and resistance to cracking and deformation of road surfaces. This can result in longer lasting and more resilient roads, reducing the need for frequent repairs and maintenance.
- Cost savings: Plastic roads have the potential to offer cost savings over time due to their improved longevity and reduced maintenance requirements. This can be particularly beneficial in areas with limited resources for road infrastructure.
- Environmental benefits: By incorporating waste plastics into roads, there is a reduction in the demand for virgin materials such as bitumen, derived from fossil fuels. This can contribute to conserving natural resources and reducing carbon emissions associated with the production and transportation of conventional road construction materials.
7. Recommendation and Contribution of the Study
- Environmental impacts: Although plastic roads may help reduce plastic waste and the need for virgin materials, it is important to consider their overall environmental impact. This includes assessing the emissions produced during the manufacturing process, the potential environmental impact of toxic chemicals seeping from plastic components, and the long-term consequences on soil and water quality.
- Impacts on human health: The use of plastic in road building raises questions regarding potential hazards to human health, particularly if harmful materials from plastic seep into the environment. To protect the health of those involved in the manufacture and installation of plastic roadways, as well as the local communities, thorough health risk evaluations should be carried out.
- Control of quality: It is essential to maintain the plastic-modified asphalt’s reliability and performance. To guarantee that the plastic components fulfill necessary standards and operate as expected under various weather conditions and traffic loads, it is crucial to create standardized production procedures and quality control measures.
- Limitations of recycling: Although plastic roads offer a way to make use of discarded plastic, it is vital to take them into account. Some plastics could be harder to recycle or might only have a few recycling choices. It is essential to create effective recycling methods and investigate other uses for plastic trash than making roads.
- Performance over time: Plastic-modified asphalt must show endurance and longevity. To determine whether plastic roads can resist the anticipated lifespan of conventional asphalt roads, it is required to assess their long-term performance under various climatic conditions, traffic loads, and maintenance schedules.
- Economic viability: It is crucial to evaluate the economic viability of plastic roadways. This includes comparing the cost-effectiveness of generating plastic-modified asphalt to conventional asphalt while taking into account elements such as material accessibility, production prices, and upkeep needs.
- Policy and regulatory framework: It is essential to create proper policies, rules, and standards before implementing plastic roads. To ensure compliance with environmental and health legislation, this includes establishing standards for material selection, quality control, and monitoring practices.
- Comprehensive research: Further research is necessary to gain a deeper understanding of plastic roads’ environmental and health impacts. This includes studying the leaching behavior of plastic components, assessing the potential effects on soil and water quality, and conducting lifecycle assessments.
- Standardization and guidelines: Developing standardized protocols, material specifications, and guidelines for plastic road implementation can ensure consistency and safety. This will require collaboration between stakeholders, including government bodies, researchers, and industry experts.
- Technological advancements: Continued technological advancements can help optimize the manufacturing process of plastic-modified asphalt, improve recycling techniques, and enhance plastic roads’ overall performance and sustainability.
- Knowledge sharing and collaboration: Encouraging knowledge sharing and collaboration between different regions and countries can facilitate the exchange of best practices, lessons learned, and research findings related to plastic road technology. This can help overcome challenges and promote the widespread adoption of plastic roads.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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Abd Karim, S.B.; Norman, S.; Koting, S.; Simarani, K.; Loo, S.-C.; Mohd Rahim, F.A.; Ibrahim, M.R.; Md Yusoff, N.I.; Nagor Mohamed, A.H. Plastic Roads in Asia: Current Implementations and Should It Be Considered? Materials 2023, 16, 5515. https://doi.org/10.3390/ma16165515
Abd Karim SB, Norman S, Koting S, Simarani K, Loo S-C, Mohd Rahim FA, Ibrahim MR, Md Yusoff NI, Nagor Mohamed AH. Plastic Roads in Asia: Current Implementations and Should It Be Considered? Materials. 2023; 16(16):5515. https://doi.org/10.3390/ma16165515Chicago/Turabian Style
Abd Karim, Saipol Bari, Syuhada Norman, Suhana Koting, Khanom Simarani, Siaw-Chuing Loo, Faizul Azli Mohd Rahim, Mohd Rasdan Ibrahim, Nur Izzi Md Yusoff, and Abdul Halim Nagor Mohamed. 2023. "Plastic Roads in Asia: Current Implementations and Should It Be Considered?" Materials 16, no. 16: 5515. https://doi.org/10.3390/ma16165515