Caltrans repaves stretch of highway with recycled plastic bottles for first time

California

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — A section of highway in Northern California recently became the first in the state to be paved using 100 percent recycled materials, according to Caltrans.

Road crews used recycled asphalt pavement and liquid plastic made with single-use plastic bottles to repave a stretch of Highway 162 in Oroville as part of a pilot project. The state transit agency is testing the material for later use throughout the state.

Caltrans said a one-mile segment of pavement using the mixture will recycle 150,000 plastic bottles.

The roadway has been found in previous tests to be more durable and last two to three times longer than traditional asphalt.

“We’re excited about introducing a new sustainable technology and helping pave the way for utilization of recycled plastics throughout the state,” said Caltrans District 3 Director Amarjeet Benipal. “This process is better for the environment because it keeps plastic bottles out of landfills and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.”

The technology, developed by a Northern California company, grinds up the top 3 inches of old pavement and mixes the grindings with a liquid plastic polymer binder, made from a high amount of recycled single-use bottles. The polymer replaces a binding agent made from petroleum.

The new asphalt material is then placed on the top surface of the roadway. Eliminating the need for trucks to bring outside material for paving, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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