World’s first recycled plastic bike path opens in the Netherlands

A city in the northeastern Netherlands is home to a world premiere: the first pilot bike path made of recycled plastic was opened last week. A second path is set to open in nearby Giethoorn in November.

At 30 metres long, the world’s first PlasticRoad bike path contains recycled plastic equivalent to nearly 220,000 plastic cups or 500,000 plastic bottle caps. The pilot location is equipped with sensors to monitor the path’s performance, including temperature, number of bike passengers and durability of the path, making it also the first smart bike path in the world.

PlasticRoad addresses the plastic waste crisis by creating a high-value second life for plastic waste by recycling it and using it to build roads. It is also an innovative way to build roads faster, with less impact on the surroundings and with less carbon  emissions thanks to its prefabricated, modular elements. The hollow construction even offers a solution for improved water drainage in the case of heavy rainfall.

The concept was first presented three years ago by road construction company KWS. Plastic pipe systems supplier Wavin and energy company Total joined the project in 2016 to develop the concept into a product.

Inventors of the PlasticRoad Anne Koudstaal and Simon Jorritsma said: “This first pilot is a big step towards a sustainable and future-proof road made of recycled plastic waste. When we invented the concept, we didn’t know how to build a PlasticRoad, now we know.”

A second pilot bike path will be installed in nearby Giethoorn in November and will test additional features. In the meantime, the PlasticRoad partners are exploring new locations to launch subsequent pilots and test other applications, such as parking lots, train platforms and sidewalks.

Image credit: PlasticRoad

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