This June, a crew of road workers in Zermatt, an Alpine Swiss town known as a haven for skiing and hiking, laid a new type of road — a plastic one. The road wasn’t built entirely of plastic, of course. But along with the typical paving materials such as stone and sand, Zermatt’s mix included additives from discarded plastic.
Despite recycling efforts, eight to 12 million tons of plastic litter still flushes into the ocean every year. According to some estimates, 60 to 80 percent of marine plastic comes from waste sites, industrial and manufacturing sites, stormwater and sewage spills, and even tourist activities. Landfilled plastic isn’t without problems either. As it breaks down, it leaches chemicals into the soil and groundwater that can harm wildlife or make their way into the human food chain.
Seems the plastic (versus bitumen) helps make the surface more flexible and therefore more durable, with fewer potholes. It will be interesting to see how these roads hold up over time and I'm assuming that traction especially for motorcyclists is not unduly affected.
To prevent several millions tons of plastic from flushing into the ocean every year, engineers are paving roads with it.