“Although plastic isnotoriously difficult to recycle, engineers at the University of Missouri are partnering with Dow and the Missouri Department of Transportation for a potential use of large volumes of waste plastic in road material.
A section of Stadium Boulevard will be resurfaced using the waste plastic in the asphalt mixture sometime this month — part of a research demonstration project.
Interviews were conducted outside the MU General Services building on Monday and by phone on Friday.
The key is creating a value for the waste plastic, said Bill Buttlar, the Glen Barton Chair in Flexible Pavements, part of the MU Department of Civil Engineering.
The road surfacing can use most types of waste plastic, Buttlar said.
The two-mile section will stretch from College Avenue to U.S. Highway 63 on Stadium. Although recycled plastic will be just 1 percent of the mixture, over the two miles that will total 10 tons of recycle materials, or the equivalent of about 750,000 soda bottles, Buttlar said.
The world’s climate scientistson Monday issued a “code red warning for humanity” related to global climate change and called for governments and individuals to take immediate action to stave off global disaster.
This project is part of the solution, said Jim Fitterling, chairman and CEO of Dow, in a news release. Fitterling is an MU alumnus.
“I joined Dow more than 35 years ago, two weeks after graduating from Mizzou,” Fitterling said in a news release. “Both this company and this university have been integral parts of my life. So I always appreciate the opportunity to bring the two together. But, even more than that, through this project, Mizzou and Dow are partnering on an innovative solution that will better our planet.”
Traffic on Stadium Boulevard averages about 36,000 vehicles a day.
Buttlar’s team will observe the two-mile test area along Stadium for at least a year.
“What we would like to see is good performance,” Buttlar said.
The plastic has strength and durability, so researchers want to see how the road material holds up during the heat of summer and the freezing and thawing of winter.
There will be control sections of traditional asphalt mixture with which to compare the mixture with recycled plastic, said Jen Harper, research director with MoDOT.
“Anytime we can do anything to make our projects more efficient, last longer and be good for the environment, it’s a win-win,” Harper said.
The thicker treatment with tougher material and more underlay work should help to prevent the usual potholes on that section, Buttlar said.
The process of mixing the material is contractor-friendly and less expensive, Buttlar said….”
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