A Singapore startup business wants to make roads made of plastic waste to help solve the growing worldwide plastic pollution problem.
Singapore's next step against plastic waste
Magorium is a company that breaks down various plastic trash and substitutes it for bitumen, the oil-based tar-like material present inroads.
They were utilized as testing areas because according to Oh Chu Xian, Magorium CEO, laboratory tests could not duplicate some climatic conditions.
The worldwide plastic problem
In 2019, the Center for International Environmental Law published a report stating that plastic production and burning will pump over 850M tons of harmful greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.
In the same year, Singapore generated approximately 930,000 tons of plastic garbage, and from this, a mere four percent or 37,000 tons were recycled, as reported by the NEA or National Environment Agency.
The pandemic added to the problem by increasing demand for bubble wrap and plastic food packaging for purposes of online delivery and shopping.
A study conducted locally showed that extra plastic waste amounting to 1,334 tons was generated by delivery and takeaway foods in the two months of lockdown.
According to Adriel Ng, Magorium CFO, even if people recycle, there is no market for these recyclables, so that these plastics still end up in landfills and incinerators.
Singapore's Semakau landfill may fill up by the year 2035, ten years earlier than expected.
The technology offered by Magorium has been developed for almost four years. It can use plastic such as wrappers, beverage bottles, food containers, and shopping bags.
Ms. Oh says that they avoid PVC or polyvinyl chloride because it releases chlorine-based, toxic chemicals.
The process involves breaking down the plastic into three different forms, namely pellets, shreds, and powder, before adding it to the bitumen.
This reprocessed bitumen- plastic mix is afterward poured on the pebbles and stones to derive the asphalt that is used on roads.
Benefits of the technology
According to Oh, repurposing this plastic reduces environmental contamination as well as decreases bitumen use by 10 to 20%. Bitumen comes from crude oil.
Plastic also helps increase road durability by a maximum of three years. Plastic lends its flexible and waterproof qualities to the road, increasing its lifespan.
The company continues to research other types of plastic for the same purpose. It also collaborates with PUB or the national water agency and NEA on customizing tests such as with microplastics.
Magorium was advised to conduct tests on using IBA or incineration bottom ash as a non-structural concrete as well as base and sub-base road material. Also, PUB advised testing on surface runoffs to see if the plastic will threaten water quality.
The two agencies were concerned about potential environmental risks, saying risk assessment must be conducted to make sure that runoff does not negatively impact the catchment's water quality.
With all these, Oh is hoping that their plastic waste conversion technology will help in making roads greener in Singapore next year to help alleviate the worldwide problem of plastic pollution.
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