We have found a way out of the plastic waste crisis, on a large scale...
In 2020, an estimated 24 to 34 million tonnes of plastic waste will enter the world's lakes, rivers and oceans... and if trends continue without improvements in the way we manage plastic waste, we could be spewing as much as 90 million tonnes of plastic waste into the world's waters by 2030. And since the COVID-19 epidemic, the amount of plastic waste is tripling.
The global south lacks adequate proper waste management systems, leaving plastic waste to wash into the Pacific and Caribbean oceans.
Inland, many rural areas are reached via unpaved – although heavily trafficked – roads, causing massive dust pollution. Pave the Road aims to reduce fossil fuel consumption in road building by replacing bitumen with waste materials to close the loop on single-use plastics, while producing longer-lasting, better performing pavement.
By redirecting the minimum amount of single use waste away from landfills into a 1 km road, "Green Pavement" could save 864,000 plastic bags and offset 11,400 kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) from released into the atmosphere. This amounts to the equivalent of 80,000 plastic bottles.
Transportation is the fastest growing major contributor to global climate change, accounting for 23% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (Sims & Schaeffer, 2014). Researchers found that extending the life of pavement through preventive maintenance can reduce greenhouse gases by up to 2%. Keeping roads in good shape reduces greenhouse gas emissions (Rutgers University, 2019).
Longer road lifespans allow transportation agencies to cut spending by 10-30%, while smoother surfaces save drivers roughly 2-5% in fuel consumption, tire wear, vehicle repair and maintenance costs. Researchers have used the long-term pavement performance (LTPP) database maintained by the Federal Highway Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation to measure the environmental impact of roadway repairs, especially preserving asphalt pavement, in terms of carbon dioxide emissions linked to global warming.