The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)
Recycled plastic could be used to ease roads crisis
Pioneering technique trialled as scale of pothole problems revealed
ROADS in the Highlands could be built out of waste plastic if a trial of the “green” method is successful.
Transport chiefs have agreed to the tests early next year – and if it works, it is expected to be a significant step towards the roll-out of “plastic roads” across the country.
The move comes as it emerged that the road network in the north and north-east is scarred with 10,000 potholes, sparking safety concerns.
Highland Council, which oversees the nation’s largest local roads network, has decided to carry out the tests and report the results to neighbouring councils in the north and north-east.
A temporary car park at the P&J Live venue in Aberdeen was built using three tonnes of waste plastic, while 20 tonnes of recycled material was used in a 60ft-long stretch of road in an Elgin residential development.
Highland Council’s vice-convener Allan Henderson said the authority would report the findings to the Northern Roads Collaboration Joint Committee, which comprises Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Highland, Moray and Western Isles councils.
Plastic waste could be used to build roads in northern Scotland after local transport chiefs agreed to trial the pioneering technique.
Highland Council, which oversees the nation’s largest local roads network, has decided to carry out the tests and report the results to neighbouring councils.
Under the plans, a small section of road would be laid in the Highlands early next year using a material that replaces part of the bitumen in the mixture with recycled plastic.
The move could represent a significant step forward towards the roll-out in Scotland of so-called “plastic roads”, hailed as an environmentallyfriendly way to repair or replace crumbling highways.
Transport Scotland, which runs the nation’s trunk roads, also confirmed last night that it had “recently engaged in dialogue with a supplier” of a product made from waste plastic.
Councils in East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire and Dumfries and Galloway are already understood to be conducting trials using the technology.
A temporary car park at the P&J Live venue in Aberdeen was built using three tonnes of waste plastic, while Springfield Properties used 20 tonnes of recycled material in a 60ft-long stretch of road in an Elgin residential development.
However, Highland Council, which manages 4,200 miles of road, is thought to be the first local authority in northern Scotland planning to use it on a public route.
The council’s vice-convener Allan Henderson said: “To me it’s very interesting, because one of the biggest problems in this world today is plastic.
“Officers still have quite a lot of reservations about it because they don’t want to be charging on and then find out you’ve got it breaking up. You could have the nurdles ending up in the watercourses.
“But what we did agree to was to put in a small trial section.”
Mr Henderson said the authority would report the findings to the Northern Roads Collaboration Joint Committee, which comprises Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Highland, Moray and Western Isles councils.
Aberdeenshire Council’s deputy leader Peter Argyle said its roads service was always looking at “more effective and efficient ways of working”, including using plastic waste.
“We’re exploring new materials and new techniques for filling potholes as well, some of which are very good but cost more,” he said.
“One of the obvious ones is the use of plastic for repairing roads.
“I think at the moment our view is that it is unproven, but we’re watching to see what is happening elsewhere.”
An Argyll and Bute Council spokeswoman said it was also “monitoring the trial sites”.
John Finnie, Scottish Greens transport spokesperson and Highlands and Islands MSP, said: “Clearly we need to look more at reusing and recycling, but there needs to be a comprehensive assessment of all the implications of this product.
“And this can’t be a long-term solution. We must be reducing our consumption of plastic.”
As well as plastic, trials have also been conducted using crumb rubber from waste tyres, including on the A90 north of Perth in 2012 and last month on the M9 from Edinburgh to Dunblane.
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We are keen to encourage innovations with respect to materials used on the Scottish trunk road network that meet national standards and specifications.
“Any such products need to demonstrate they fully meet the relevant standards and specifications, and provide confidence the materials will perform satisfactorily over the longer term and represent value for money.”
“One of the biggest problemsinthe world is plastic”