Construction of the country’s first plastic road – in Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape has started.

The engineers said in the long term, maintenance costs will be drastically reduced. Another spin-off is that the tons and tons of plastic waste is being put to good use, instead of worsening the pollution woes in South Africa.

The project is the brainchild of the Kouga Municipality, South African engineers and the Scottish company, MacRebur. Kouga Mayor Horatio Hendricks said the backlog for road repairs in the region exceeded R500m.

Said Hendricks: “We simply do not have the rates-base to deal with this backlog decisively. The DA-led Kouga council has, therefore, been looking for innovative ways to slay this giant since taking power in the municipality in 2016.”

The road will be made from recycled plastic materials broken down into pellets. MacRebur has tested the viability of plastic roads in the United Kingdom.

DA Member of Parliament, Vicky Knoetze, said potholes would be a thing of the past. She explained that “water won’t be able to seep through easily.”

In addition, roads made from recycled plastic materials will last three times longer with less upkeep required. According to Knoetze, about 1.5 tons of plastic will be used for every km. That means tons of plastic will be diverted from the landfills. Hendricks said the state of roads have a devastating impact on road users and the economy.

“It’s not only a danger to motorists, it is also bad for the economy,” said Hendricks.

MacRebur CEO, Toby McCartney, said he cottoned on to the idea while working in India on landfill sites. He said people there used plastic materials as pothole fillers. They placed it in potholes and set it alight. He pointed out that asphalt is made of bitumen and stone.

“We can do this because we are turning the plastic into its original oil-based state and binding it to the stone with the help of our activator. It’s therefore not a case of burying rubbish in our roads. In fact, at the end of their life, our roads can be recycled. We use the plastic waste over and over again.”