The Democratic Alliance in the Eastern Cape has secured a place in the finals in two categories of the 2020 Eco-Logic Awards for its innovative Plastic Roads project in Jeffreys Bay, in the DA-run Kouga Municipality.
The project has been shortlisted in the Innovation and Eco-Build award categories of the annual event, widely recognised as South Africa’s most glamorous green eco-calendar event, hosted by Enviropaedia.
The Eco-Logic Awards, which has 13 categories in total, aims to identify, individuals, organisations and communities that positively contribute to a sustainable world.
I approached the DA-run Kouga Municipality, under the leadership of Mayor Horatio Hendriks, to pilot the project after facing a disappointing dead stop by the ANC in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, who vehemently opposed the idea.
The end result, which can been seen in Woltemade Street, Jeffreys Bay came about due to an amazing team effort by various role-players such as the Kouga Municipality, SP Excell, who built the project at no charge to the municipality, and MacRebur who supplied the plastic product for the pilot. Without these early-onset adopters, who believed in this idea, the project would not have been possible.
This innovative method of road construction replaces a large percentage of bitumen with waste plastic in the road’s construction process. The result is a road using plastic as the polymer binder, which will suffer no potholes or edge breaks and will require no maintenance for up to 20 years, resulting in massive cost-savings.
The aim is to address a ‘triple threat’ of unemployment, the billion-rand roads maintenance backlog and also, very importantly, marine pollution. A standard ‘plastic road’ will contain 1.5 tons of waste plastic (1.8 million plastic bags) per kilometre. Plastic that would otherwise have ended up on landfills or in the ocean. This plastic would have to be collected, sorted and packaged, potentially providing an income for the unemployed, while simultaneously reducing the amount of plastic that can end up in oceans, of which South Africa is contributing approximately eight tons every year.
Our aim is now to challenge other municipalities to make use of this innovation to create a demand in South Africa, in the short term and in the long -term to set up factories in the Eastern Cape to produce the final plastic product that will also be able to export to Sub-Saharan Africa. The DA has proved that it continues to drive innovation in the fight against unemployment and sustainable development to the benefit of the environment.