by Waseem Khatri

Promoting a Circular Economy: Saudi Aramco Deploys Recycled Plastic for Road Construction
Helping build highways is nothing new to Saudi Aramco. However, building highways with recycled plastic is a company first. The company’s Consulting Services Department, in collaboration with the Transportation and Equipment Services Department, recent piloted its “Plastic Road” technology within a company-owned facility on the Hawiyah Road near Hofuf.

Hofuf — In alignment with directives to promote the use of nonmetallic material in the construction sector, Saudi Aramco’s Consulting Services Department (CSD) has piloted “Plastic Road” technology within a company-owned facility on the Hawiyah Road near Hofuf.

The project was completed in collaboration with the Transportation and Equipment Services Department (T&ESD).

It marked the first time that recycled plastic was used for road construction by the company, and in the Kingdom. The unique road was constructed on a stretch of highway owned by Saudi Aramco. This is a proven technology and has previously been applied in India and the U.K., which allows the use of recycled plastics in roads.

Plastic waste has become a major issue in recent times, posing a danger of pollution and often ending up in landfill sites. The plastic road technology offers an opportunity to contribute toward a circular economy, and is designed to eliminate waste and enhance the continual use of used plastics to reduce pollution and carbon emissions.

Recycled plastic consists of used plastic bottles, bags, and other plastic packaging.

Increase the Strength of the Asphalt

After being added to asphalt, recycled plastic can increase the strength of the asphalt concrete mix. The use of recycled plastic can also reduce the amount of bitumen used in the asphalt mix by up to 10%, making it an economical choice.

The use of plastic improves the stiffness of the asphalt mix and the durability and overall performance of the asphalt pavement, making it a sustainable and environmentally friendly construction option. This also reduces the need for maintenance interventions and reduces life cycle costs. Additionally, the use of plastic can improve the performance grade of the asphalt to resist the temperature issues and traffic load experienced in the Kingdom.

The technology evaluation and implementation could not have been accomplished without the support from T&ESD. Upon completion of the pilot project, CSD acting manager Abdullah S. Al Humaid noted the importance of the use of recycled material as an economical and sustainable way of modern road construction, and encouraged more of these applications to be used by Saudi Aramco and Kingdomwide.

T&ESD acting manager Sami A. Al Ajmi highlighted the importance of this technology, which will help to make better use of plastic waste and promote the concept of a circular economy in the Kingdom.

Riyadh S. Shiban, CSD coordinator with the Civil Structural Engineering Division, said, “This success story is one of many to come as we will jointly plan more technologies to deploy to support the corporate strategy to promote the use of nonmetallic materials in the building and construction sector.”

— The Arabian Sun: December 18, 2019 | Vol. LXXIV, No. 49