CMU successfully builds model road from recycled plastic

1 June 2022

Corporate Communication and Alumni Relations Center (CCARC)

       Each day the amount of plastic waste multiplies as a massive amount of plastics is consumed every second. With inefficient waste management, only 11.7 million tonnes of garbage out of 27 – 28 million are buried, which only addresses the end result. This leads to various environmental problems that greatly impact people’s lives. With this problem in mind, CMU Faculty of Engineering researched how to strengthen roads using recycled plastic waste mixed with asphalt. Not only will this research alleviate problems in waste management, but it will also reduce the costs of road construction.

       ‘Zero waste’, which involves a complete self-management of waste, is one of CMU’s strategies. Waste sorting is regarded as a crucial beginning point of the mission and CMU has been educating its students and staff on the issue. Plastic bags that are contaminated cannot be recycled directly and thus, have to be buried or incinerated. Although this may offer some benefits in power generation, it releases pollution into the environment. To address the issue, the Department of Civil Engineering at CMU has come up with a way to add value to recycled plastics by testing them as an adhesive substance mixed with asphalt that undergoes complete bond shape transformation and will not release microplastics into the environment upon washout in natural conditions.

       The road made from recycled materials has more strength but at the same time uses less asphalt during construction, thus reducing the costs. Another contribution of this research is the testing of road surface durability. It is proven to be practical in real-world use, being able to withstand friction for seven to eight years. Its success gives rise to a model road that is up to the road engineering standards of the Department of Highways and the Department of Rural Roads. This publicly accessible road is located in the Mae-Hia Agricultural Training and Research Centre.

      Waste management is not a responsibility of any separate agency, but a collective one. Everyone can contribute to the improvement of the environment. CMU is committed to the achievement of SDGs by setting them as a strategic objective in collaborating with the community to give back and make contributions to the country and the world. This road goes beyond a path for transportation; it is a concrete manifestation of the resolution of a long-term problem.