SAN DIEGO —
Road made of recycled plastic at UC San Diego is first of its kind in America
There is a street on the UC San Diego campus that is unlike any other in the entire country. That’s because the stretch of road near Regents Road and Miramar Street is made entirely of recycled plastic.
The 250-foot stretch of eco-friendly road at UCSD was installed a year ago and has garnered a lot of attention.
"I get a lot of calls from people - developers, officials, students – they're really interested in it, so the word’s getting out there,” said Gary Oshima, the construction commodity manager for UC San Diego.
The road looks and feel very similar to a regular road. Oshima says the small amount of plastic added is the only difference. But even that small amount equals 75,000 plastic water bottles - or one ton.
"I was shocked when I heard that,” said Oshima.
He says he first heard about plastic roads by watching a TED talk with Toby McCartney - the co-founder of MacReber, the UK-based company that developed a secret ingredient it mixes with the recycled plastic. That blend replaces some of the black, oil-based bitumen that keeps regular roads together.
"For every ton of bitumen we replace, we save a ton of carbon emissions,” said McCartney. “So for the environment, it's the way forward."
The road is more durable and more flexible than a regular road according to Oshima.
"I think it’s really a minor change in the process but can make a profound difference,” he said.
There are plans in the works to bring a manufacturing plant that makes the plastic mixture to the United States and possibly to San Diego, but those plans are in the early stages.