Mar 21, 2019 | Updated: 02:42 PM EDT

Philippine Company Pushes for a Road Made of Recycled Plastic

Mar 12, 2019 08:45 AM EDT

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San Miguel Corporation (SMC), one of the most diversified conglomerates in the Philippines has announced their proposal to use plastic in constructing roads for the said country. The company has collaborated with Dow Chemical, a company specializing in material science, to work on the ambitious project. The goal was to use up the hard-to-recycle plastics rather than letting those be hauled over to different landfills. This plan would effectively lessen the solid waste output of the country.

Hard-to-recycle plastics include polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polypropylene (PP) items. These are numbers three and five in the seven standard classifications for plastics. Number three plastics, PVC, includes trays for sweets, fruit plastic packaging (bubble foil), and food foils. Number five plastics, PP, include furniture, toys, luggage, car bumpers, linings, and other external borders of cars.

PVC, also called poison plastic, contains numerous toxins. Most items made of PVC require virgin plastic while less than 1% of PVC materials are accepted for recycling. On the other hand, although PP is considered safe for use, only 3% of the material is being taken in for recycling. Efforts are being done by most retailers to minimize the use of these two, like opting for reusable items in their establishments, rather than single-use ones.

SMC proposes to embed all these hard-to-recycle plastic materials into the asphalt used in road construction. This will improve the road surface when it comes to stability and durability. Laboratory reports also resulted in increased skid resistance, a longer lifespan for the roads, and lower costs for asphalt. 

The only downside is the disclaimer that the results are still not final and more test are being done as the technology is yet to be applied first on small municipal roads, parking lots, and sidewalks. Of course, positive results might lead to bigger infrastructure projects.

SMC president Ramon Ang is optimistic about the positive effects that the project will have for the environment. Ang further explained how the project is one way to deal with scrap plastic or non-recyclable plastic in the most environmental-friendly manner they could think of. The company president also emphasized that the project is hitting two goals: to help the environment and to improve the country's infrastructure. In his interview, he expressed his eagerness to get the ball rolling on the green project.

The environmental consciousness of the company was further established as they have recently decided to discontinue their plastic bottled water business, giving way to a business model that is more sustainable. The company also monitors their daily carbon emissions and are careful not to go over the limit established government. All results are published on their website.

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