As part of Dow’s commitment to reducing plastic in the environment and delivering circular economy solutions through innovation, the company constructed two new polymer modified asphalt (PMA) roads by improving them with post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR) at its Freeport, Texas facility. Both private roads—Plastics Road and Gulfstream Road—are now open for traffic.
DuPont’s Technology Enabled Several Benefits for the Road
Enabled by DuPont™ Elvaloy® asphalt modification technology, these roads achieved the following:
- Used 1,686 pounds of recycled linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) plastic —the equivalent weight of 120,000 plastic grocery bags
- Covered a combined length of approximately 2,600 feet
- Saved PMA material cost
- Met Performance Grade 70-22 requirements
“We’re excited about the technological implications of this project, and it’s worth mentioning that PCR helped to reduce the material cost of PMA in road construction,” said Jennifer Li, global construction sustainability leader and ICT infrastructure & construction marketing manager at Dow. “For many, a circular economy can seem unrealistic. It becomes far more realistic when they see how sustainability efforts can be supported by improved performance and cost savings.”
Further Improving Roads for Different Climates and Conditions
As Dow researchers examine the results of this project—a collaboration with Martin Asphalt, American Materials and Vernor Material & Equipment—they plan to monitor the longevity and performance of the PMA roads to further improve them for a variety of climates and conditions. Dow is developing plans to use next-generation recycled plastic mixtures to improve parking lots at its Midland, Michigan headquarters.
“Our global sustainability team is dedicated to identifying new construction end-use projects with our value chain collaborators,” said Li. “Imagine the impact if one day recycled plastic or used packaging (that isn’t recycled today) could be used to improve several high-performance roads and parking lots across an entire city, highway system or corporate campus.”
100 Metric Tons of Waste Diverted from Landfills
In combination with PMA projects around the world, Dow has now laid more than 26 miles of PMA pavement. This has diverted 100 metric tons (more than 220,000 pounds) of waste from ending up in a landfill as litter.
Before this North America pilot, the company began improving roads with recycled plastic in Depok City, Indonesia in 2017 to help the Indonesian government reach its goal of reducing plastic waste in the ocean by 70 percent by 2025. Following that trial project’s success, Dow turned its attention to India, where it worked with KK Plastic Waste Management, Ltd., Rudra Environmental Solutions and two local governments to implement roads improved by plastic in the cities of Pune and Bangalore. Most recently, Dow began a collaboration with Siam Cement Group in Thailand to begin improving asphalt roads with plastic.