Recycled Plastic Bike Path — A Greener Path Forward

January 14, 2019

Recycled plastic is on a roll! We recently checked in with an ambitious project in India, where a professor created the world’s first plastic-paved road. It’s been a few years since the roads were first built, and other countries are headed down the same sustainable path.

In another first, the Netherlands revealed the world’s first recycled plastic bike path. While it’s only 100 feet long, the path contains the plastic equivalent of about half a million bottle caps!

“You see a bottle, we see a road,” says Plastic Road’s co-inventor Simon Jorritssma. The aptly named organization says if the bike path is well received, it could pave the way for larger infrastructure projects: roads, sidewalks and parking lots, to name a few.

Aside from being readily available, plastic has actually proven itself to be an extremely durable material for infrastructure projects. Compared to asphalt, recycled plastic roads are expected to last 2-3 times longer. They’re also impervious to the elements that slowly wear down standard roads.

Aside from the obvious implications of using 100% recycled materials, plastic roads have a sustainable leg up over asphalt by virtue of being much lighter. For starters, the material is 4 times lighter than asphalt, which greatly reduces CO2 emissions during the material’s transit. Because the roads can be placed on a bed of sand rather than a foundation, they save several layers of asphalt that would need to be manufactured and transported. It’s green being lean!

Plastic Road's recycled plastic bike path

Image courtesy of PlasticRoad

Recycled plastic offers some nice everyday perks over asphalt, as well. The bike path is hollow so that it can house pipes and cables that would run beneath a standard road. Being hollow also means that it can temporarily store excessive rainwater. The path a great neighbor in case of heavy downpour!

And the best part? If the road somehow gets damaged, it can be removed, recycled and replaced. Innovators across the globe are driven to pursue an eco-friendly path forward for packaging materials, and they’ve got good company in Ernest Packaging Solutions! Plastic isn’t the only substrate in the world of bikes and recyclability — see how we made a recyclable push bike out of cardboard!