Paving a new future

Heartland and NAIT partner for Plastics Research in Action

At the Plastics Research in Action (PRIA) year-three update on November 17, students, researchers and industry partners provided tangible examples of how hard-to-recycle post-consumer plastics can be applied in producing more sustainable building and construction materials. One of the feature project updates included a new asphalt-polypropylene blend for roads that is being tested for cold weather environments titled the asphalt project. The asphalt project entered field trials this past summer.

“The purpose of this research is to test, validate, and demonstrate the blending of post-consumer plastics into asphalt for Alberta climate conditions,” said Dr. Adetoyese Oyedun, Senior Project Manager with NAIT. “Similar work has been done in other climates, but, especially because of the nature of the climate in Alberta, it is different and is difficult, so that’s why we went down this path.”

A new path to the future

Paving roads in Alberta with hard to recycle post-consumer plastics is at the heart of The Asphalt Project, a PRIA collaboration with GreenMantra Technologies, McAsphalt Industries Limited., Alexander First Nation, and Sturgeon and Strathcona Counties. Dr. Adetoyese Oyeden, explained how the project has created new paved roads at Alexander First Nation, on the Heartland Petrochemical site and in the partnering counties. Across the test locations, this project will redirect around 3.74 tonnes of plastic waste – equivalent to 716,000 plastic bags or 415,000 plastic bottles.

The land and the environment are very important pieces to how we need to live in balance with development and operations and we’ve got to find that balance,

— Chief George Arcand, Jr., Alexander First Nation and Grand Chief, Confederacy of Treaty Six

Adding, “Part of finding that balance is making sure we encourage new ways of doing business so that the business doesn’t become the irritant or the roadblock to development.”

John Almey, Technical Sales Specialist with GreenMantra Technologies, said the asphalt made includes a proprietary wax made from 100 per cent recycled polypropylene plastics that would otherwise end up in landfill. This asphalt mix has proven to provide excellent performance in cold weather and greater resistance to cracking.

“Partnerships like this are key to the success of sustainable materials,” Alvey said.

Chief George Arcand, Jr., added: “We are going to be part of changing the future of the way paving is done in Alberta. This new technology will create a path forward for how we look at things in the future.”

Lorraine Royer, Inter Pipeline’s General Manager of Policy, Indigenous and External Relations, said PRIA’s success to date has created more opportunities for new collaborations in advanced recycling, building products and mixed plastics use. At the heart of the work is a deep commitment to making meaningful change.

This is what we believe: It’s important as a society that we get plastics right. When plastics products complete their usefulness, they don’t belong in landfills or the environment

— Lorraine Royer, Inter Pipeline’s General Manager of Policy, Indigenous and External Relations

she said. “We believe that plastic is a valuable commodity that belongs in the economy, products that we need and use every day from medical equipment to light-weighting vehicles to reduce fuel consumption. We just need to get it right.”

Watch the full Asphalt video to hear from our partners and collaborators who helped make this project a success.

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