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

- BY CALUM ROSS Ecology · Aberdeenshire · Angus · Moray · Outer Hebrides · Scotland · Dumfries · Plymouth Argyle F.C. · Perth · Edinburgh · Dunblane · East Ayrshire · Dumfries and Galloway · John Finnie

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”

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