Global Voices

How an Indian professor is turning plastic trash into highways

After seeing plastic waste was a growing problem throughout the country, Dr. Vasudevan devised a method for converting recycled, shredded plastic waste into flexible, long-lasting roadways.

This post by Todd Reubold was originally published on Ensia.com, a magazine that highlights international environmental solutions in action, and is republished here as part of a content-sharing agreement.

Plastic pollution is one of the greatest challenges facing the world. Just last week, scientists writing in the journal Scientific Reports announced that the weight of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch was four to 16 times more than we thought.

All of this means finding ways to recycle and reuse plastic waste are more important than ever.

Enter Rajagopalan Vasudevan, a professor at the Thiagarajar College of Engineering in Madurai, India. After seeing plastic waste was a growing problem throughout the country, he devised a method for converting recycled, shredded plastic waste into flexible, long-lasting roadways:

When I started the work, some of the companies in the United States they came to know that, they were offering a lot of money. They wanted the technology to be given to them, but I said no, we are not giving like that. I'm giving to my country freely.

To date, thousands of kilometers of highways in India have been paved using the process he invented, thereby reducing the amount of plastic waste that might otherwise be released into the environment:

India's got 41 lakhs (4.1 million) kilometers, only 1 lakh is laid. The other roads should be laid. That is the motivation for the whole work.

Budapest, Hungary-based filmmaker Seth Coleman produced, shot and edited this video.

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