Green Road Project - An Innovative Way To Pave Roads Using Plastic Waste Practised In Bhutan
Bhutan aims to cut the amount of plastic waste going to landfills by 30 to 40%.
By Krishna Ghalley | Business Bhutan
As part of its national effort to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, Bhutan has started using discarded plastics to blacktop its roads.
Harnessing technology which was first implemented in India, the private and publicly funded ‘Green Road’ Project, with support from Bhutan’s Department of Roads, aims to cut the amount of plastic waste going to landfills by 30 to 40%.
Source: World Economic Forum
It also wants to reduce the amount of bitumen, or asphalt that Bhutan imports from India by about 40 %.
Blacktopping roads using plastic waste in Phuentsholing
The Phuentsholing Thromde has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Green Road to facilitate the management of its landfill and collection of plastic waste.
Green Road will extract the discarded plastics from the Thromde’s landfill in Toribari. It will then process and use them to blacktop the road within the vicinity, in accordance with Bhutan’s 12th Five Year Plan.
In addition, Green Road will collect plastic garbage from the landfill and towns within the Thromde and turn them into polymerised bitumen. It will then be mixed with other substances and used for blacktopping.
According to the Phuentsholing Thrompon, Uttar Kumar Rai, who said that he had difficulty in managing the landfill, the Thromde has chosen Green Road for the project. This is expected to be mutually beneficial.
The Thromde has been spending money on managing the landfill, however there is further scope for expansion.
Plastics found in a landfill in Bhutan.
Till now, the Thromde has been burying all the waste together. Once the landfill is full, which is inevitable, the Thromde fears that it will be difficult to find a new landfill.
“It’s time that we come up with a solution and tying up with Green Road is a viable option,” he said.
He added that it is also the right moment to provide space for Bhutan’s private sector to grow.
Green Road has a good track record of blacktopping roads in Bhutan
The Phuentsholing Thromde has opted to work with Green Road after assessing the latter’s activities and capacities in blacktopping roads in the country.
The Thromde has also made it mandatory for any contractor who is working on road blacktopping works within the Thromde to use only the polymerised bitumen produced by Green Road.
It will make direct payment to Green Road for the amount of polymerised bitumen used by a contractor in the future. The onus is up to Green Road to negotiate the price of bitumen with its contractors.
A test trial which has yielded good results so far
The Thromde’s Chief Engineer, under the infrastructure Division, Ashok Sunuwar, said that the company is ready to begin work now.
Plastic Road in Thimphu, Bhutan.
Photo: Bhutan News Network
The Thromde has started a trial test by blacktopping 130m of road using polymerised bitumen two months ago. The results has been satisfying thus far.
The company will install the appropriate machines and start segregating plastic waste. Subsequently, it will start manufacturing polymerised bitumen.
The thromde will then identify the roads where the polymerised bitumen will be used specifically.
“We will identify the relevant roads so that the bitumen will be put to their best use,” Ashok Sunuwar said.
One advantage of having roads blacktopped by polymerised bitumen in a moderate climate is that the roads will be more durable, unlike the ones paved using other types of bitumen.
“The quality of the road is also expected to be better,” the Thrompon said.
This article first appeared in Business Bhutan and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.