The government has issued the first work orders making it mandatory to use plastic up to 18% in all road works in the State. The use of waste plastic and industrially-recycled plastic in road and highway construction was made mandatory as part of a policy issued in June.
Officials hope use of converted plastic waste could help in quality development of nearly 3.37 lakh km of roads planned by 2021. The works will begin in about a month. “The first work orders have been issued making it mandatory [to use] 18% of plastic in road works. We have also incorporated the same policy for cement factories to use plastic as fuel,” said Principal Secretary, Environment, Anil Diggikar.
The Central government, through a notification dated November 9, 2015, had made use of waste plastic mandatory in the upper layer of asphalt roads built by hot mix technique. The State’s own policy was formed following consultations with Professor Rajagopalan Vasudevan, known as the Plastic Man of India, who is consulting Maharashtra on innovative ways to dispose of plastic and turn waste into roads since the start of 2018.
Senior officials said the new work orders are part of the Public Works Department’s Road Development Plan 2001-21. To reach the target of 3.37 lakh km, the State has been steadily increasing its road length, from a network of 2,99,368 km in 2015 to 3,00,789 km in 2016. “We hope consultations with Prof. Vasudevan for use of shredded plastic over 2 mm help us develop quality roads in future,” Mr. Diggikar said.
Since 2002, Prof. Vasudevan has been using shredded plastic waste of 2 mm over hot bitumen. The thin film of plastic is spread over stones and later added to molten tar. The roads constructed in this manner have lasted longer than those constructed by local bodies and State governments.
A government resolution issued earlier this year made use of plastic in asphalting works mandatory, following a successful experiment. It said that the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has also found that such roads are of better quality and less expensive.