Antwerp’s port area has a new 800-metre bike lane in its port area with an unusual twist: it’s paved with recycled plastic as well as asphalt. It was built by two companies with different technology, and will serve as a testbed as well.
The first section, running 75 meters, path is the most innovative. Dutch company PlasticRoad built it using about two million plastic coffee cups in an underlayer, with a layer of fine stones on top. The company says it’s 82% less carbon intensive than a normal asphalt lane. The underlayer can also store uup to 300 litres of water per square metre, and then slowly release it into the soil.
The longer section of the circular path was built by Scottish company MacRebur. They use a mix of asphalt with recycled plastic pellets, which replaces 6% of the refinery oil that goes into asphalt. The plastic comes from recycled household waste, such as butter tubs or plastic bottles.
Antwerp Port’s technical manager pointed out the using plastic in asphalt isn’t new and strengthens asphalt. What is new, he said is the use of recycled material and the ongoing experiments to see how much plastic can be used. So far, the plastic roads are more expensive than ordinary asphalt, but are expected to last many years longer.
The experiments with plastic cycle lanes are part of an ambitious plan to improve the port's cycling infrastructure. Over the next ten years, the Port Authority will spend €40 million to improve the more than 200 kilometres of cycle paths and build additional bicycle connections. The plans come as more people take their bikes to work in the port.