This Ghanaian company is turning plastic waste into asphalt roads

As #PlasticFreeJuly kicks off, we look at a new innovation that allows us to cleanse our environment of discarded plastic bags by building new roads with it.

Each year, approximately 380 billion plastic bags are manufactured and only 7 percent of them are recycled. This has a disastrous effect on the environment, as the durability of plastic bags makes it impossible for the natural world to break it down like organic matter. Wanting to alleviate this problem, a company in Ghana is creating a useful alternative to asphalt to pave new roads using a significant amount of discarded plastic in its makeup.

Nelplast Ghana Limited, a company that specialises in industrial processing with an ecological slant, is behind this innovation. They are turning plastic garbage into stone-like pavement blocks which can be used to build new roads.

At the Nelplast factory, discarded plastic bags and other plastic detritus is shredded down to fine threads before being mixed with ordinary sand, creating a new take on traditional asphalt. This kind needs little in the way of a binding agent and adopts the physical resilience of its plastic origins. Though recycling plastic bags is the focus of this endeavour, the great news is Nelplast can use just about any form of plastic waste to create their asphalt-like material.

Engineer Nelson Boateng is one of the minds behind Nelplast’s industrial work in Ghana. According to an interview with Konbini online, Boateng played a vital role in developing this material, possessing over two decades of experience in the recycling technology world. Boateng once built his own recycling machine out of scrap metal and co-founded Nelplast Ghana Limited to make a greater impact on the region’s plastic refuse problem.

Working towards a cleaner environment is at the heart of Nelplast and they do so in more than one way. In addition to building new road networks with plastic, the company also manufactures durable roof tiles made from the same waste. They also offer to consult other businesses in order to strengthen their recycling game.

More on solutions to recycle plastic waste:

Dave Hakkens’ DIY plastic recycling machines

The Reshape initiative: Developing skills and recycling plastic for a good cause

Social housing in Colombia made from plastic waste