Plastic roads the way to go, forum advises

Monday June 12 2017

A plastic bags recycling plant in Mathare, a low income area in Nairobi pictured on March 7, 2017.  PHOTO| FRANCIS NDERITU

A plastic bags recycling plant in Mathare, a low income area in Nairobi pictured on March 7, 2017. PHOTO| FRANCIS NDERITU 


Kenya can fix two of its biggest problems - bad roads and mounds of plastic waste — at once, if it embraces new technology.

The technology incorporates plastic waste in the construction of roads.

The roads, built from discarded plastic water bottles and polythene bags will not only be water resistant but also stronger, smoother and durable, Mr Balasubramaniam Swaminathan, the president of Enterprising Fairs India, said.

He spoke at a seminar on plastic waste management at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi Sunday.

“The low-cost technology developed by Indian professor Rajagopalan Vasudevan involves using a mix of plastic waste and tar to build roads," he said.

A kilometre of road usually requires 10 tonnes of bitumen.

However, shredded plastic can replace 10 to 12 per cent of the tar.

A million plastic bags make a tonne of plastic.

Promising future
The United Nations Environmental Programme estimates that supermarkets hand more than 100 million polythene bags to customers every year.

That means a plastic bag today could be a future highway or flyover.

It is a transport solution that uses products that take years to break down.

And better news is that the technology is environmentally-friendly.

During the seminar, which is part of the Plastic Machinery Industry Exhibition, Indian High Commissioner to Kenya Suchitra Durai said thousands of kilometres of roads could be built using the technology.

She said such roads were built in India from 2002 “and are not showing any signs of wear and tear”.

“If Kenya is interested, it can approach us with the request and we can link local officials to the professor in order to address the plastic waste menace,” the diplomat said.

Plastics ban
Participants said the method did not need significant technical knowledge, large investments or changes to existing road-laying procedures.

This comes after the government issued a gazette notice banning the use of plastic bags at the end of August.

Kenya environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu insists that the ban stands.

The National Environmental Management Authority has asked retailers to clear stocks before August 28.

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