Street Made Entirely of Recycled Plastic Asphalt

The material, now being tested on California roads, is made using recycled PET plastic and promises longer-lasting road treatments.

1 minute read

January 11, 2021, 10:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Rain on Road

George Hodan /

As part of its commitment to the sustainability goals laid out in L.A.'s Green New Deal, Los Angeles became the first city to install recycled plastic asphalt on a city street, writes Haley Rischar.

The concept of recycled pavement panels first took hold close to two decades ago when city leaders in L.A.'s coastal neighbor, Santa Monica, sought a solution to broken sidewalks caused by tree roots. To accommodate the roots and provide a smoother right-of-way for residents, Santa Monica has used rubber panels made from recycled car tires to repair sidewalks constantly under threat from unruly tree roots since 2001.

Now, a segment of First Street near near City Hall is receiving the treatment. The innovative product is infused with recycled PET plastic that "has the potential to reduce the use of petroleum in asphalt." Although not yet tested on roads, the material promises to have five or more times the strength of normal asphalt and last more than twice as long, saving money and time spent on road repairs.

The California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) is also testing recycled plastic pavement in a three-lane installation on Highway 162 near Oroville.

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