Staten Island home to first plastic-added asphalt pavement in New York

October 28, 2022, Posted by Haley Rischar

The New York City Department of Transportation (NY DOT) partnered with British plastic road company MacRebur to use plastic scrap to repave public roads on Staten Island.

The plastic-added pavement was used on Rice Avenue and Royal Oak Road. MacRebur says the project is the “first stages of a revolutionary trial that sees otherwise unrecyclable plastics re-engineered into a new, sustainable polymer and gives a new lease on life within asphalt mix in road construction.”

According to a release announcing the partnership, the new pavement process has saved over 7,221 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions when compared to traditional asphalt. The project has also diverted the equivalent weight of 214,534 single-use plastic bottles from landfill.

The project took place over a four-day span. MacRebur and NYC DOT worked with asphalt producer City Asphalt, based in Staten Island, to lay four different types of asphalt mix, using more than 2,400 tons of hot mix asphalt. The first mix contains only traditional asphalt, but the remaining three consists of asphalt mixed with a percentage of MacRebur’s waste plastic additive, which replaces part of the bitumen binder.

The trial sections will be tested and monitored to measure performance against traditional asphalt pavements by Dr. Thomas Bennert of Rutgers University, one of the leading universities in the U.S. for asphalt research and testing. Results are expected to be announced before the end of the year.

“Having worked with the team at NYC DOT for just over a year, it’s refreshing to see such enthusiasm about new technology and products for use in asphalt,” says Roddy McEwen, international business officer for MacRebur. “While trials sections such as these typically [take] up to three years from start to finish, we have worked together to begin trials within just four months, with a long-term goal of utilizing local waste for local roads.”

Producing and laying 1.1 million tons of asphalt each year, NYC DOT is one of the nation’s leaders in using recycled asphalt pavement, typically using 40 percent in every mix.

NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez says, “Using recycled plastic waste has the potential to solve our growing plastic waste problem and improve the quality of our streets by cutting carbon emissions and reducing potholes.

“We are excited to partner with MacRebur on this promising pilot and look forward to monitoring how its asphalt mix performs in New York City weather.” Matthew Cruz, general manager at City Asphalt, adds, “When NYC DOT advised us of the trial using waste plastic in asphalt, we were initially reluctant as we hadn’t had much experience with the introduction of new products into our new Gencor plant. However, as we researched the product and had the opportunity to discuss it with other asphalt plant operators, our reluctance turned to curiosity and excitement. The opportunity to address a major environmental concern seemed too good to be true.”

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