Thought Leaders

Using Plastic Waste to Repair and Maintain Roads

Thought LeadersChrysoula RaptakiFounder and CEORoadfill

AZoCleantech speaks to Chrysoula Raptaki, founder and CEO of Roadfill, about her company's mission to reduce carbon emissions in the building sector with Roadworx, an alternative binding agent that uses waste plastic for repairing and relaying roads. 

What major developments have you helped deliver within your division at Roadfill?

The main development has been our focus on turning waste plastic into an alternative binding agent to repair and relay roads, adding the reformatted waste plastic to an asphalt mix, reducing the percentage of bitumen traditionally required. We are also now trialing adding graphene flakes to our proprietary mix. This is of particular interest to the UK government as it has now classified graphene as a national asset with huge commercial advantages.

Roadfill uses eco-friendly techniques to deliver road maintenance solutions. Can you tell us more about the programs and how they are helping to reduce CO2 emissions in the sector?

Firstly, we are limiting the number of waste plastics going to landfill or being incinerated. Secondly, manufacturing and ultimately laying down the mixed plastic/asphalt requires much less energy consumption, further reducing the Co2 footprint.

road, plastic waste

Image Credit: OlegRi/Shutterstock.com

What is Roadworx and how was it developed?

Roadworx is the name we have given to our proprietary product. It has taken us three years to develop and we worked in collaboration with the universities of Greenwich and Anglia Ruskin on this.

How will Roadworx revolutionize road maintenance sectors?

Massively. Recently, National Highways announced that only ‘warm lay’ asphalts can now be used in public sector works. Current asphalt materials do not last long when laid down in this method. Our products were designed for both warm lay and cold lay applications and we have seen a huge demand for our products since this announcement in August 2021.

Why is finding environmentally-friendly road maintenance solutions an important consideration that the building sector must begin to move towards?

The UK, along with the majority of western economies, has agreed to stringent Co2 emission targets. The UK is hosting COP26 next month and has made legal pledges to reduce our overall carbon footprint. Roadfill’s products reduce carbon emissions and contribute towards a circular economy, helping us to be less reliant on depleting fossil minerals and fuels.

Were there any challenges when developing the programs and products?

The main obstacles were reluctance for change. For many years, the tarmacadam companies have enjoyed an oligopoly industry, taking a ton of bitumen at a cost price to them of £65 and selling it onto a client for an average price of £1,750 per ton. Our methods of production, using waste materials and regenerating old tarmacs have turned the industry on its head.

Is there a potential for this road maintenance technology to be adopted across the world?

We are already in discussions with European, American, and Chinese companies, considering either a license agreement or white labeling our products.

Can you tell us more about the 18-month sustainability-focused road repair pilot program in Plymouth, UK?

We are working with the Heart of the South West regeneration Build Back Better program. Plymouth is undergoing huge inward investment and the SW area wants to showcase the very best of UK-based SMEs.

Do you believe plastic waste will be a key component in similar projects in the next five years?

We have become over-reliant on depleting fossil minerals, and alternative measures are now required. Waste plastic is at a tipping point. The World Health Organisation concluded earlier this year that 33,000 plastic bottles flow into the Mediterranean Sea each hour. We undertook a study into microplastics on roads; for every 1 meter of road, there is the equivalent of 2.3 kg of microplastics. Change is no longer required but a necessity. Because of this, novel technologies such as Roadfill’s will become standard in construction design and build.

The UK Government has developed a Build Back Better initiative. How are you contributing to this on a national and global scale?

We are contributing by developing sustainable closed-loop circular economies. An example is that one of our clients, who operate a major UK airport, gets through 150,000 PPE equipment a week. We collect this, shred it onsite, and use this material in a substrate mix to do repair work within the airport estate. This is an example of Roadfill’s contribution to Build Back Better initiatives.

Do you have any future developments that you are able to discuss?

We are developing a filtration trap made from abundant plant materials and seashells which will be able to capture and store Co2 emissions, vehicle pollutants, and microplastics from rainwater discharge on main roads across the country.

Where can readers find more information?

www.asphaltuk.org

About Chrysoula Raptaki

While pregnant, Chrysoula Raptaki hit a pothole with such force, her waters broke. Having just renovated a property earlier that month, she joked with her partner Chris Fallon that she should fill London’s potholes with builder’s expanding foam. From this bizarre accident, the idea of Roadfill was formed.

Roadfill has developed a method of taking waste plastics destined for landfill, reformatting the structure, and adding it to an asphalt mix. This reduces the amount of bitumen required to repair or lay a new road.

With a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Greenwich, Chrysoula approached the concept with her construction hat on, saw elements of the industry that needed to be changed, and set about achieving her vision.

Roadfill is now a recognized brand and is expanding across overseas markets.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.

Laura Thomson

Written by

Laura Thomson

Laura Thomson graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with an English and Sociology degree. During her studies, Laura worked as a Proofreader and went on to do this full time until moving on to work as a Website Editor for a leading analytics and media company. In her spare time, Laura enjoys reading a range of books and writing historical fiction. She also loves to see new places in the world and spends many weekends looking after dogs as part of BorrowmyDoggy.com.

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