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Pennsylvania to test recycled plastic as road paving material

Pennsylvania to test recycled plastic as road paving material
In Pennsylvania, the roads people drive on may soon be made of recycled plastic.

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Millions of products that consumers buy each year are held in containers made from recycled material.

In Pennsylvania, the roads people drive on may soon be made of recycled plastic.

Officials from the state Departments of Transportation (PennDOT), Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Environmental Protection (DEP) and General Services (DGS) are highlighting a pilot project to pave part of a Ridley Creek State Park roadway with an asphalt and recycled plastic mixture.

According to a PennDOT news release, the project, coordinated through PennDOT’s Strategic Recycling Program, which is funded through DEP, includes two quarter-mile roadway stretches surfaced with an asphalt/recycled-plastic mix.

The material is intended to strengthen the roadway surface without leaching plastic material into the surrounding environment, the news release stated.

“Transportation is integral in our communities and we are always evolving our operations,” PennDOT Acting Deputy Secretary for Highway Administration Mike Keiser said. “We are very pleased when we can pursue innovations bringing benefits to the public, our transportation assets, and our environment.”

The material being tested supports interagency goals to increase the commonwealth’s sustainability in operations while supporting deployment in the state overall. Potential benefits include:

  • Extended useful life of asphalt pavements;
  • Diverting waste plastics from landfills and helping to establish a viable market for these plastics; and
  • Continued ability to reuse asphalt millings in future recycled-asphalt pavement applications.

“DEP is proud to support this project in partnership with PennDOT through the Strategic Recycling Program,” Pat Patterson, DEP southeast regional director, said.

“Recycling is a fundamental environmental principal and DEP supports any effort that diverts waste from landfills.”

The pilot project location was chosen in coordination with sibling agencies and supports increased emphasis on sustainable practices. The pilot is incorporated into a 1.5-mile reconstruction project within the park from the entrance to Pavilion 14. The rest of the roadway is being paved with a standard asphalt mixture to provide a comparison for the new material over the five-year evaluation period.

“Sustainability is at the core of DCNR’s mission and we are pleased that one of our 121 state parks was selected to be a part of this innovative pilot project,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said.

“We look forward to testing this new technology based on the expected benefits, and are hopeful that it is a model for future successes in Pennsylvania – especially with regards to state agencies collaborating to create more sustainable operations and policies across the commonwealth.”

 

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