A world premiere in the Netherlands: the first PlasticRoad bike path was recently opened in Zwolle, Overijssel. Inventors of the PlasticRoad, Anne Koudstaal and Simon Jorritsma – together with Member of the Provincial Executive of Overijssel, Bert Boerman and Alderman William Dogger of the municipality of Zwolle, cycled the first bike path made from recycled plastic. The concept was presented three years ago by road construction company KWS (a Royal VolkerWessels company). Wavin and Total joined forces with KWS in 2016 to develop the concept into a product. A second PlasticRoad bike path pilot in Giethoorn, near the pilot location in Zwolle, will be opened in November.
The first PlasticRoad bike path is 30 meters long and is located next to Deventerstraatweg between Lindestraat and Verenigingstraat in Zwolle, the Netherlands. The 30 meters of plastic bike path contain recycled plastic equivalent to more than 218.000 plastic cups or 500.000 plastic bottle caps. The pilot location is equipped with sensors to monitor the road’s performance – including temperature, the number of bike passages and the durability of the road. With these sensors, this PlasticRoad is the first smart bike path in the world.
Inventors of the PlasticRoad Anne Koudstaal and Simon Jorritsma: “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.”
New destination for plastic waste
Worldwide, 350 million tons of plastic are used every year. However, the largest portion of plastic reaching end-of-life is still landfilled or incinerated. In Europe, all plastic applications together contain only 7% recycled plastic.* The PlasticRoad creates a high-value second life for plastic waste by recycling it and using it to build roads. In this way, the companies want to create a durable outlet for the excess of plastic waste of today. The PlasticRoad pilot in Zwolle is circular and made with a significant amount of recycled plastic. The end goal is to use 100% recycled plastic.
In addition to a possible solution for waste plastic, the PlasticRoad is a way to build roads faster, with less impact on the surroundings and with less CO₂ emissions. The prefab, modular elements make this possible. The hollow construction offers a solution for improved water drainage in the case of heavy rain fall.
Overijssel and Zwolle stimulate innovation
The province of Overijssel and the municipality of Zwolle see a great potential in the PlasticRoad as a solution for future challenges and ambitions. Consequently, they chose to team up to be the first customers for the first two pilots. By being the first customers, they hope to pave the way for this innovation to be brought into practice and tested for economic and technical feasibility. Both parties encourage entrepreneurs with innovative and sustainable ideas. With this project, both governmental parties are working towards a circular economy and a sustainable public space for the future.
Second pilot in Giethoorn (NL)
In November, a second pilot bike path will be installed in Giethoorn, Overijssel. The location of this bike path will test additional features of the PlasticRoad. With this second project, the results of both pilots will generate enough insights to apply and refine the PlasticRoad. In the meantime, the PlasticRoad partners are looking for new locations to launch subsequent pilots – to test other applications of the PlasticRoad, such as parking lots, train platforms and sidewalks.
* Source: Deloitte sustainability report 2017