Roads of polythene! It’s possible, says researcher

February 26th, 2009 - 11:32 am ICT by IANS  

Varanasi, Feb 26 (IANS) Researchers at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) claim to have found a new way for disposing of plastic waste, mainly polythene bags, by using them for construction of long-lasting, water-proof roads.

“In our research we observed that polythene bags could immensely enhance the durability of roads,” Ram Adhar Singh, a professor with BHU’s chemistry department who led the research, told IANS.

Buoyed by the new technique of managing polythene waste, the researchers now plan to get it patented.

“In our research, we used polythene bags after giving them a specific mechanised heat treatment along with coal-tar, pieces of stones and other materials required for constructing roads and got favourable results,” said Singh, who is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Kanpur.

According to the researchers, roads of coal-tar and stones lose their strength due to water-logging. Coal-tar, which is organic in nature, cannot gel effectively with stones that have inorganic properties, resulting in cracks and potholes when water-logged.

“But when polythene, which is organic in nature, is used after the heat treatment, it forms a layer on the stones. As the inorganic stones get the organic covering they effectively bind with coal-tar,” explained Singh, who has been teaching chemistry for over 25 years.

According to researchers, polythene, coal-tar and small stone pieces are used in a specific proportion. And at a temperature between 120 and 130 degrees Celsius, polythene forms a layer over pieces of stones and prevents the roads from wear and tear in case of water-logging.

The widespread use of polythene is posing a major environmental hazard as it is not bio-degradable. This method now provides a new window of opportunity for proper management of polythene.

Following the unique method, residents of Ashok Puram in Varanasi where Singh lives, have started collecting polythene for making roads in their colony.

The residents have approached Singh to get the road built for them by using the new technique.

(Asit Srivastava can be contacted at

– Indo-Asian News Service


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