Study on Use of Plastic Waste to Pave Roads Under Way

March 2019

The Public Works Department (PWD) of Malaysia, through its Centre of Excellence for Engineering and Technology (CREATE), is studying road pavement technology utilizing asphalt from waste plastic and latex, in its effort to reduce maintenance costs of retarring conventional asphalts roads which are prone to pothole formation across the country. Two sites of road stretches in Temerloh, Pahang and Chukai, Terengganu, have been involved in the study.

At the Temerloh site, a lane of 175m was paved with a mixture of plastic waste and asphalt, while another stretch of 645m was paved with latex asphalt in September 2017. Three types of paving materials were used at the Kemaman site resurfacing work completed in October 2018, with waste plastic asphalt covering a 615m stretch of road, latex asphalt over a 990m stretch of road, and another 1,330m stretch of road paved by latex mastic asphalt. The study is expected to be concluded after two years of monitoring, but thus far according to PWD the initial observation is positive.

The department is said to be taking the lead from India, which has started to use plastic as an additional component when retarring roads for the past 15 years and found that these roads, currently stretching to about 25,000km across India, are more resilient than the conventional asphalt-paved roads. Indonesia was reported to have started with a similar study in 2017 in Bali. Based on PWD’s account around 2% of the kind of plastic waste generated in Malaysia is usable for the road paving industry, and the country would need to import such waste from countries like Australia and the United Kingdom if it decides to use waste plastic asphalt as a resurfacing material on a wider scale in the future.

(Sources: The Malay Mail; FMT News)

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