Driving on Plastic? Feels like heaven! In cities in Southern India, plastic film waste is used to lay stronger and smoother roads.
When plastic was first discovered, it was considered to be a revolution in the world’s industries. It was extremely durable, light weight, water and chemical-resistant, insulator and versatile. It could be moulded into almost any shape. Its properties could be modified to satisfy particular technical needs. Deemed as a boon for the packaging industry, it was readily adopted.
However, the very same qualities of plastic have now become a menace for this planet. Due to the ability of plastic to withstand extreme physical conditions, it is non-biodegradable. This means that it cannot be broken down into simpler substances by microbial action. Hence, a plastic bag once manufactured, will not decompose and stay in the environment for years together, doing it great harm. They cause both environmental and aesthetical damage to our surroundings.A large number of fish, marine birds and animals like cattle and turtles are choked to death everyday by swallowing plastic bags. As many as 1000 plastic pieces have been found inside dead animals.
In order to rid the environment of plastic garbage, Ahmad Khan of India has developed a technology to burry plastic bags with roads. He has developed a processed plastic called Polyblend, which modifies bitumen’s properties and increases road life and performance.
Invention of Polyblend
Ahmad Khan, owner of KK Polyflex, a firm based in Bangalore, India had been manufacturing plastic sacks for over twenty years. He came to realize the hazards of plastic and the gravity of plastic solid-waste disposal problems. Ahmad Khan, along with his brother Rasool Khan and a chemical Engineering friend developed a recycled modified plastic with some proprietary stabilizers, called Polyblend. Subsequently, Ahmad Khan sought help from Prof CEG Justo of Bangalore University and Chemical Engineering students of R.V. College of Engineering. They conducted various experiments with blends of Polyblend and bitumen coal. It was concluded that polyblend, when mixed with bitumen, enhances its properties, thereby increasing road-life and performance.
The raw material for Polyblend is any kind of plastic film waste. However, different types of plastic wastes, like plastic bags, bottles, buckets are segregated. The waste plastic is fed into shredding machines. Once powdered, the different types of plastic wastes are mixed together. This powder is mixed with hot bitumen and other prescribed additives in a specific proportion to form aggregates used for laying roads. The final step is carried out in the same way as ordinary tar roads are laid. Since the plastic is only shredded, and not burnt, the process eliminates chances of release of toxic gases into the atmosphere.