Civil Engineering

Plastic roads

The abundance of plastic waste dumped in the environment and its harmful effects call for an urgent action. In response, many countries have actively taken up the responsibility of recycling as much plastic as possible. There are different ways of utilising the recycled plastic, one of them is to utilise it for the construction of roads. India is one of the few countries which has already started the use of recycled plastic in road construction from the past few years. In fact, a government order in November 2015 made it mandatory for the road developers in the country to make use of plastic waste alongside bituminous mixes for road construction. On the other hand, some similar projects are being initiated by other countries as well.

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Plastic roads are roads made either entirely of plastic or of composite of plastic with other materials. Plastic roads are different from standard roads in the respect that standard roads are made from asphalt concrete, which consists of mineral aggregates and asphalt. Currently, there are no records of regular roads made purely of plastic. Plastic composite roads, however, have existed and demonstrate characteristics superior to regular asphalt concrete roads; specifically, they show better wear resistance The implementation of plastics in roads also opens a new option for recycling post consumer plastics.This technology is getting replicated very fast in Jharkhand, after the plastic road laid at Jamshedpur city on 30th November 2011. Many countries like Nigeria, Australia, Kenya etc. and the Indian cities like Ranchi, Bokaro, Dhanbad and Giridih have also learnt this technology from Jusco, A Tata Enterprise by the expert and Environmentalist Mr. Gaurav Anand. Mr. Anand , a disciple of Dr. R. Vasudevan is also involved in promoting this technology for mankind for free.

Difference from the conventional method

Laying down one km of normal bitumen road takes 10 tonnes of bitumen, while the use of recycled plastic can build a 3.75-meter wide road by utilizing 9 tonnes of bitumen and 1 tonne of plastic waste for every km. Interestingly, 1 tonne of bitumen costs INR 50,000 to INR 60,000 (in India). So for every 1 kilometer, you get to save thousands of rupees. Besides, 1 tonne of plastic waste equates to 10 Lacs carry bags and hence people are required to sell off the plastic which they use for domestic purposes. This has even led to thousands of people getting involved in collecting and shredding plastic waste.

Benefit of plastic roads

  1. 70% faster road construction
  2. Dual use of hollow space for cables, pipes or water storage
  3. Little or no maintenance
  4. 3 x longer expected lifetime of the roads
  5. 4 times lighter than the traditional road structure

Process of Road Construction Using Plastic Waste

Collecting Plastic Waste:

The first step involves a collection of items categorized as plastic waste. It includes carry bags and cups with 60 microns of thickness, hard and soft foams, laminated plastics like biscuits and chocolate wrappers.

Flexible pavements

Rigid pavements

Factors which affect the selection of pavement type

  • Initial cost
  • Availability of good materials
  • Cost of maintenance
  • Environmental conditions
  • Availability of industrial wastes
  • Traffic intensity


  • Preliminary Pavement Design
  • A preliminary pavement design needs to be performed during the early phase of project development. This step ensures that a viable design is generated, balancing risk while ensuring adequate funding rather than allowing the project cost to dictate the pavement design. Preliminary design considerations are then discussed at a district level Pavement Design Concept Conference.

  • Pavement Design Standard Operating Procedure(SOP)
  • Communication between the district pavement engineer, planning staff, maintenance staff, construction staff and area engineers is key to designing, constructing, and maintaining quality pavements.

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General Pavement Design Considerations

Title 23 CFR 626 establishes the following requirement: "Pavements shall be designed to accommodate current and predicted traffic needs in a safe, durable, and cost-effective manner." The regulations do not specify the procedures to be followed to meet this requirement. Instead, each State Highway Agency (SHA) is expected to use a design procedure that is appropriate for its conditions. The SHA may use the design procedures outlined in the "AASHTO Guide for Design of Pavement Structures," or it may use other pavement design procedures that, based on past performance or research, are expected to produce satisfactory pavement designs.

Shoulder Structure

Research results have shown that widening the right pavement lane and placing the edge stripe 0.5 m from the outside pavement edge significantly improves both asphalt and concrete pavement performance by providing edge support. The SHAs are encouraged to use paved shoulders where conditions warrant. Shoulders should be structurally capable of withstanding wheel loadings from encroaching truck traffic. On urban freeways or expressways, strong consideration should be given to constructing the shoulder to the same structural section as the mainline pavement. This will allow the shoulder to be used as a temporary detour lane during future rehabilitation or reconstruction. On new and reconstructed pavement projects, the SHAs are encouraged to investigate the advantage of specifying that the shoulder be constructed of the same materials as the mainline, particularly on high-volume roadways. Constructing shoulders of the same materials as the mainline facilitates construction, reduces maintenance costs, improves mainline pavement performance, and provides additional flexibility for future rehabilitation.

Design Methods

  • Design of Flexible Pavement by Group Index Method
  • California Resistance Value Method
  • Triaxial Method

Software used for the design



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Skyfi Labs Last Updated: 2022-03-21

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