Plastics are everywhere, your bottles, disposable bags and cups, kitchenware, pipes, the list goes on, and let’s face it, they make life so much easier. However, literally speaking they are everywhere! It’s in the drainages, oceans, landfills, and even being digested by animals. We use it so much we can’t get rid of it. It’s dangerous for the earth, but let’s face it, you’re not going to lose any sleep drinking your soft drinks from that PET bottle.

 

If you can’t reuse it, refuse it

Countries such as Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa and India have banned the use of plastic materials. While it seems like a practical solution, policymakers are aware of the massive loss of jobs that can be caused by this transformation.

It’s obvious Nigeria isn’t going to refuse it anytime soon, but there must be something we can do to get rid of it

Recycling plastics is obviously a great way to make our environment cleaner, but plastics have also been proven to be an excellent ingredient to facilitate the construction of roads.

 

Please say this is not just some fancy idea, how is this different from conventional roads?

Standard roads are made from asphalt concrete- responsible for the annual emission of 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide, while plastic roads are made by combining shredded plastic bags, cups or PET bottles collected from garbage dumps, with hot bitumen. Plastic roads which have been constructed in India as well as some European countries are three times stronger than standard asphalt roads. They are much more resistant to wear and tear caused by floods, less likely to develop potholes and encourage less maintenance.

India’s first plastic road can be found on Jambulingam Street, Chennai. The road which was constructed in 2002, has survived a major flood, several monsoons, many heat waves, and a steady stream of cars and trucks without showing the usual signs of deterioration common to asphalt roads.

 

Think of plastic roads as a way to kill two birds with one stone.

It takes hundreds of years for plastic to decompose. They are non-biodegradable- a fancy word that points to the fact that it is incapable of being decomposed by bacteria and other living organisms, making it one of the most aggressive agents of pollution.

The Lagos state government revealed that its residents dump about 450,000 metric tons of plastic into the ocean. That’s just one state in the country! Think of the other states or factor in the plastics buried in landfills, dumped on the streets, or clogging up our drainages. It’s an epidemic that needs to be addressed.

Then, there’s another infrastructure disintegrating right in front of our eyes. According to the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP), Nigeria has a national road network of about 200,000 km managed by the federal, state and local government.

Given that 90 percent of transportation in the country happens on roads, it’s obviously an infrastructure critical to economic growth.

Road networks should be in great shape, but in Nigeria, that’s not the case. The report by NIIMP reveals that as of 2012, 40 percent of federal roads, 78 percent of state roads and 87 percent of roads managed by local governments were in poor condition.

The terrible state of road infrastructure leads to terrible traffic jams (those moments you feel your life is wasting away on the road) and accidents. Add the cost and time needed to construct and maintain an asphalt road, and it’s safe to admit the whole situation is a nightmare.

The construction of plastic roads can be considered as one of the best strategies to tackle both pollution and road deterioration. What do you think?