India first built plastic roads two decades ago and today, a growing number of countries around the world follow in its footsteps to recycle and reuse plastic waste so it doesn’t end up in landfills and oceans.
If recycled plastic is valued as a material for fishing nets, fuels, or pavement, “it won’t get buried; it won’t get burned; it won’t make it to the ocean,” says Heather Troutman, program manager of the Ghana National Plastic Action Partnership. “I believe plastic roads, if done to scale, in combination with other uses for reclaimed plastic, like concrete and fuel, will offer an opportunity to absorb hundreds of thousands of tons, almost overnight,” says Doug Woodring, the founder of Ocean Recovery Alliance.
According to recent studies, roads that contain plastic last longer, are stronger, more resistant when it comes to temperature swings and water damage, and perform as well or even better than traditional roads. The industry of plastic road paving is booming, and plastic roads are being tested in every corner of the world. President Akufo-Addo of Ghana made plastic roads a part of his ambitious plan to recycle and reuse their 1.1 million tons of plastic by 2030.