In an effort to become more sustainable and combat pollution, California is paving the first state highway using 100% recycled materials.
The project is taking place across three lanes of Highway 162 just east of Oroville in Butte County.
Crews are working to repave the road using recycled asphalt held together with thousands of melted plastic bottles.
The California Department of Transportation is using a new experimental process in the development of the roads. Crews grind up the top three inches of existing asphalt and mix it with a liquid plastic polymer binder made with plastic from used soda and water bottles. The asphalt is then laid in place and packed with a roller.
Paving 1 mile uses up about 150,000 plastic bottles.
Tests have shown that the plastic asphalt is more durable than traditional asphalt; lasting two to three times as long. These eco-friendly roads look like normal asphalt but have the benefit of saving dozens of truck trips, reducing smog and greenhouse gas emissions compared to the traditional paving method.
The California Department of Transportation plans to conduct detailed studies on the plastic-asphalt section of the Oroville road. The $90,000 strip of plastic asphalt will be used to evaluate cost-effectiveness and wear-and-tear saving time, money, and reducing truck emissions.
If it works well, pavement made of 100% recycled material could be coming soon to other highways.