POLYMIX Project: Obtaining asphalt mixes from waste

Proyecto POLYMIX: Obtención de mezclas asfálticas a partir de residuos

The Institute of Plastics Technology (AIMPLAS), in cooperation with Acciona Infraestructuras, the Directorate General of Roads of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, and project coordinator, the University of Cantabria, has obtained an innovative asphalt mix that is more resistant and sustainable than conventional mixes, thanks to the incorporation of plastics waste into the manufacturing process. End-of-life tyres (ELT), polypropylene bottle tops, polyethylene containers and polystyrene coat hangers are added to the composition of the basic asphalt to produce the new mix.

Plastic is extensively used in a wide variety of applications because of its processability, easy design and generally very varied properties (insulating and conducting properties, fragility, hardness, malleability, etc.). These materials are used for the the manufacture of a great variety of products in a large number of sectors, such as: packaging, construction, vehicle manufacture, electrical and electronic equipment, medicine, aeronautics, agriculture, etc. At the end of their lives, these products become waste that requires appropriate management. Despite the existence of legislation that obliges implementation of the waste hierarchy (prevention, mechanical recycling, energy recovery and disposal), a great deal of waste is still disposed of, mainly in landfills.

The trend in management is towards a reduction in waste going to landfill and an increase in materials recycling and energy recovery. It is necessary to continue working along these lines to reduce environmental impact and recover the valuable elements contained in plastics waste. The POLYMIX project was undertaken within this context.

The project is funded by the LIFE+ Programme (LIFE10 ENV/ ES/516) of the European Commission and is being carried out by a national consortium. The partners are: AIMPLAS (The Institute of Plastics Technology), Acciona Infraestructuras, the University of Cantabria and the Directorate General of Roads of the Autonomous Community of Madrid.

The general objective of the POLYMIX project is to demonstrate the behaviour of new asphalt mixes, which are modified with eco-friendly polymer waste to improve the characteristics of the mix.

Article published in: FuturENVIRO October 2014