Waste Plastic to Pave Roads in Bhutan – A Sustainable Idea with Dual Benefits

With a little ingenuity in its infrastructure sector, Bhutan is on course to achieving two ends at once. By using waste plastic to pave its roads, the Himalayan kingdom will be able to curb the amount of plastic that goes into its landfills and also cut back on its bitumen imports from India. To this end, road development authorities in Bhutan will use plastic bottles and other plastic waste in a bitumen-based mix to construct roads.

Called the Green Road project, the public-private partnership will bring about tangible benefits to the Bhutan. A report in Reuters quoted Rikesh Gurung, a plastic road entrepreneur, as saying that the new project will help Bhutan reduce bitumen imports by 40% (the country currently relies on India for imports). As far as plastic waste is concerned, the country hopes to divert at least 30% of all plastic that goes into landfills in the country. In countries where there is still a lack of mandates to govern waste disposal, tons of plastic is burned, which only adds to environmental pollution. In this backdrop, a project that encourages the recycling of plastic, as opposed to burning it, is a more sustainable alternative.

The report further states that the amount of plastic in the road paving mixture will be no more than 15%. At a time when countries are beset with waste management issues, this ingenuous idea could set an example. The project to build eco-friendly roads in Bhutan received a go-ahead after Gurung demonstrated the idea by building a 150-meter long road in a pilot project.

This innovative project, which Bhutanese road development officials are already terming a success, will likely be replicated in other regions of the country over the next few years. According to the Reuters report, Gurung was inspired by a similar project that he had seen in Tamil Nadu, a state in south India.

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