Kouga Municipality claims it is pioneering a new approach to building roads from plastic in Africa as it believes this could spell the end of potholes, create jobs and help save the planet.
Photo: A MacRebur ‘plastic’ road
To this end, the municipality is going to join forces with a Scottish company and South African civil engineering experts to build the first plastic road in Africa. The project was launched at Jeffreys Bay this morning, 11 March.
A 1km-stretch of Woltemade and Koraal Streets in Jeffreys Bay has been earmarked for the trial. Work will start in a month’s time as the product currently has to be imported.
The backlog in road repairs for our region is more than R500-million and the municipality. According to Kouga’s Mayor, Horatio Hendricks, the municipality does not have the rates base to deal with this backlog decisively, even though he maintains it is strong financially.
Vicky Knoetze, a member of the Easter Cape Legislature first introduced the idea of solving some of South Africa’s problems through plastic roads to the Provincial Legislature in 2017. The idea of a pilot project was rejected. Knoetze then organised a meeting between the municipality and Scottish innovators MacRebur, which has plastic roads that have been tested in the United Kingdom and other countries across the globe. Also present were Port Elizabeth-based civil engineering and construction companies SP Excel and Scribante Construction.
Kouga then agreed to become the first municipality in South Africa and the continent to put the technology to the test. MacRebur offered, an enhancement of the asphalt mix traditionally used for the top layer of roads.
MacRebur offers an enhancement of the asphalt mix traditionally used for the top layer of roads, according to Knoetze. Non-recyclable plastic waste, which ends up in the ocean or clogging up landfill sites, is processed into pellets and used to replace a large component of the bitumen in a conventional asphalt mix.
It is estimated that up to 1.8-million plastic bags can be used in just one kilometre of road. The result is a road that is stronger and more durable, Knoetze maintains. Water, the main cause of potholes, does not penetrate it as easily as with traditional asphalt mixes and it is also more heat resistant
The plastic road surface was also cheaper and easier to maintain, she claimed.
Hendricks said should the trial be successful, the municipality would like to see a factory being established in Kouga to produce the pellets locally.
This could result in- better roads, less pollution and more job opportunities, the mayor said. he added that the trial will be done at no cost to the municipality. The respective partners will foot the bill.