A California company has devised a process that integrates recycled plastic into road repaving, an innovation that could revolutionize the industry while yielding environmental benefits. Sean Weaver, president of TechniSoil Industrial in the northern California city of Redding, says the polymer-infused roads churned out by the company’s pavement process are sturdier, flatter, safer and more durable than those made with regular asphalt.
More appealing to environmentalists, they incorporate 100% of the old asphalt – sparing the air from dozens of trips by trucks hauling away and bringing in building material – and provide a new market for plastic products that could otherwise wind up in a landfill. “Everybody that’s looked at it said this will be one of the most transformative road-construction technologies ever,’’ Weaver said. “We’re recycling what’s there, and we’re delivering a road that’s better than the original, at no higher cost than it would cost you to rehab that road the traditional way.’’
The process involves four large construction vehicles linked together in what’s called a “recycling train,’’ which scoops up the top 3 inches of asphalt on a lane, grinds them on a mill and mixes them with TechniSoil’s G5 binder, containing from 2%-20% of liquefied plastic. The blended product is deposited back on the road, paved and rolled over. There’s no heat involved in the operation, which essentially replaces the traditional binder – bitumen, a leftover from refining oil – with a sturdier plastic composite. The other elements of asphalt, such as crushed rock, gravel, sand and filler, remain in place.