Vietnam paves way to reduced plastic waste contamination

09:00 | 27/03/2020 Environmental Resources

(VEN) - Vietnam is joining a growing pioneering trend of paving roads with recycled plastic. The plastic-suffused asphalt reduces the amount of petroleum in asphalt and repurposes plastic waste that would otherwise contaminate the environment. It is also a cheaper alternative than traditional asphalt.

vietnam paves way to reduced plastic waste contamination
A 200-meter road section built from plastic waste

Vietnam is currently one of the world’s top producers of plastic waste, with urban areas like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City seeing an estimated 80 metric tonnes of plastic waste entering the environment as litter every day.

Last year, five students from the University of Transport and Communications started a project producing bricks from plastic bags for use in road paving, using three easy-to-find and familiar ingredients: sand, stone and plastic bags. The bags were washed, cleaned and dried, then heated up to a certain temperature, forming an additive that increases durability. After mixing the ingredients according to a carefully calculated ratio, the mixture was put into a pan and heated together at about 180-220 degrees Celsius. Once the mixture was sufficiently fused together, it was poured into a mold and compacted by machines, hammers or compactors to make the final products.

The students are not the only ones in Vietnam exploring this innovative, environmentally friendly method. In October 2019, 200 meters of a road in Hai Phong’s DEEP C Industrial Zone were paved using recycled plastic. The project is a joint venture of Dinh Vu Industrial Zone Joint Stock Company and Dow Chemical Vietnam Co., Ltd. with the cooperation and support of Hai Phong Urban Environment One Member Company Limited.

The recycled household plastic wastes, mainly plastic packaging like polyethylene film supplied by the Hai Phong Urban Environment One Member Co, Ltd are cleaned, dried and ground before being mixed with asphalt plastic at temperatures of 150-180 degrees Celsius. At this temperature, the plastic melts completely, merges with the asphalt, helping improve durability of the road.

Before asphalting, the Vietnam Maritime University conducted two experiments, with results meeting Vietnam’s technical and safety requirements. After the success of this pilot project, more road sections in the DEEP C Industrial Zones in Hai Phong City will be built from recycled plastic wastes.

Bruno Jaspaert, General Director of DEEP C Industrial Zone, said the new paving method “is considered an innovative and creative solution to solve the existing plastic waste problem in Vietnam and other countries in the world, contributing to promoting the circular economy in Vietnam”.

More than 420 million tonnes of plastic are produced annually around the world and about 75 percent is thrown away, contaminating the environment. The world’s oceans absorb around 13 million tonnes of plastic annually, which harms hundreds of marine animals including whales, krill, turtles, and coral.

Thu Huong