Construction of Africa’s first eco-friendly road, incorporating recycled waste plastic, started in Jeffreys Bay this week.

Gareth Nel from MacRebur, East Cape MPL Vicky Knoetze and Kouga Mayor Horatio Hendricks take a closer look at the pellets that are used in the asphalt mix

Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks said Woltemade and Koraal Streets had been identified for the pilot.

“The testing of the plastic product to be used in the premix was recently finalised,” he said.

“It is this product, developed by a Scottish company called MacRebur, that is set to revolutionise the way roads are built.”

Hendricks said the testing of the product had taken longer than anticipated as it was the first time it would be used in South Africa and the continent of Africa.

“We are very excited that work on the road has commenced. The contractor will be establishing the site this week and we expect construction to start in Woltemade Street next week.”

The completion date had been set for mid-October.

The ground-breaking initiative is a joint project by Kouga Municipality and MacRebur SA, together with Port Elizabeth-based civil engineering and construction experts SP Excel and Scribante Construction.

The partnership was facilitated by Vicky Knoetze, a DA MPL, who first introduced the idea of using waste plastic to solve some of South Africa’s road problems to the East Cape Provincial Legislature in 2017.

“Essentially we will be doing what we have done for years and will be doing till the end of days, which is building roads, just in amore efficient and effective way,” she said.

She said what MacRebur offered, was an enhancement of the asphalt mix traditionally used for the top layer of roads. Plastic waste, which ends up in the ocean or clogging up landfill sites, is processed into pellets and used to replace a large component of the bitumen in a conventional asphalt mix. It is estimated that up to 1,8 million plastic bags can be used in just one kilometre of road. “

Knoetze continued, “The result is a road that is stronger and more durable. Water, the main cause of potholes, does not penetrate it as easily and it is also more heat resistant. “The plastic road surface is also cheaper to maintain.” 

Hendricks said Kouga was looking forward to the potential benefits of the trial.

“In addition to better roads and reducing plastic pollution, the technology could open up economic opportunities for our communities.   Should the trial be successful, we would like to see a factory being built to produce the pellets locally. This would mean work at the factory, as well as a means for communities to make money by collecting and selling plastic waste.”

He said the trial would be done at no cost to the municipality, with the respective partners set to foot the bill. 

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