Although plastic is known to be difficult to recycle, University of Missouri engineers are working with Dow and the Missouri Department of Transportation to enable the potential use of large amounts of plastic waste in road material.
A section of Stadium Boulevard will be renewed sometime this month with the waste plastic in the asphalt mix – part of a research demonstration project.
The interviews were conducted outside the MU General Services building on Monday and by telephone on Friday.
The key is creating value for the plastic waste, said Bill Buttlar, the Glen Barton Chair at Flexible Pavements, part of the MU’s Department of Civil Engineering.
Millions of tons of plastic waste are disposed of every year and end up in landfills and often in the oceans, where there are large islands of floating plastic.
The pavement can use most types of plastic waste, Buttlar said.
The two-mile section will extend from College Avenue to US Highway 63 at the stadium. Although recycled plastic will make up only 1 percent of the mix, the two miles will add a total of 10 tons of recycled material, or the equivalent of about 750,000 soda bottles, Buttlar said.
The world’s climate scientists issued a “red warning to humanity” on Monday related to global climate change, urging governments and individuals to take immediate action to avert the global catastrophe.
More:The UN climate report published a “Code Red for Humanity”. Is there anything we can do to fix it?
This project is part of the solution, said Jim Fitterling, chairman and CEO of Dow, in a press release. Fitterling is an MU alumnus.
“I joined Dow more than 35 years ago, two weeks after graduating from Mizzou,” Fitterling said in a press release. “Both this company and this university are an integral part of my life. That’s why I’m always happy to have the opportunity to bring both together. But beyond that, Mizzou and Dow are working together through this project on an innovative solution that will improve our planet. “
Traffic on Stadium Boulevard averages around 36,000 vehicles per day.
Buttlar’s team will monitor the two-mile test area along the stadium for at least a year.
“What we would like to see is a good performance,” said Buttlar.
Related:“The entire route has priority”: The renewal of the stadium boulevard is entering the next phase
The plastic has strength and durability, so the researchers want to see how the road material can withstand the heat of summer and freezing and thawing in winter.
There will be control sections of traditional asphalt mix that the mix can be compared to with recycled plastic, said Jen Harper, director of research at MoDOT.
“Anytime we can do everything we can to make our projects more efficient, last longer and be good for the environment, it’s a win-win,” said Harper.
The thicker treatment with harder material and more underlay work should help avoid the usual potholes in this section, Buttlar said.
The process of mixing the material is contractor friendly and more cost effective, Buttlar said.
Mixing is done at Capital Paving & Construction’s Columbia facility. Brandon Reed is in charge of the asphalt plant.
“We are of course very excited to be working with MU and MoDOT to drive innovation in building material design,” said Reed.
Buttlar’s team examined the material in the lab, but now it’s time to see it in action.
“There’s nothing like watching it on the field,” said Buttlar.
After that project, Buttlar said the team may be scaling up for a larger test project before it can be used nationwide.