The Abu Dhabi Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport and the local asphalt industry are constantly looking for technologies to reduce consumption of raw materials, emissions, and increase recycling to meet the objective of the UAE Surface Transport Master Plan 2030 and create the correct conditions for a sustainable road infrastructure network development. These goals are accepted worldwide, and many governmental agencies recognized them as fundamental for developing any new pavement technology. In this view, many studies have been recently carried out in the attempt to combine traditional pavement materials with polymeric waste to obtain a better performing product from the mechanical, as well as the environmental perspective.
Plastic waste represents a massive source of polymeric material. Every second, around 20,000 plastic bottles are being bought around the world, which corresponds to around 480 billion plastic bottles. It is expected that by 2021 the production will increase to 583 billion. Most plastic bottles are made from PolyEthylene Terephthalate (PET), which is highly recyclable. Nevertheless, data from 2016 shows that less than half of the bottles bought in one year were collected for recycling and just 7% of those collected were turned into new bottles. Instead, most ended up in a landfill or in the ocean. Even though recycling technologies are currently available for reprocessing plastic, it is still extremely difficult to deal with the impressive quantity of plastic accumulated over the years. In the UAE, it has been evaluated that around 5 billion tons of general plastic waste will be reversed in the environment by 2030. This is the equivalent plastic amount generated by over 380 trillion plastic bottles.
The PEAM project aims to investigate the chemo-physical interactions between different types of plastic waste and the asphalt bitumen in the view of developing a reliable methodology to combine these two materials and enhance the mechanical properties of the final mix.