Department of Highways, Department of Rural Roads, SCG, Dow Thailand Group, and Chiang Mai University announced a partnership to explore and develop the use of plastic waste in asphalt concrete for road construction to deliver the road with improved performance and lifespan. The partnership aims to set a new standard for state roads while achieving the goal to promote effective waste management and resource efficiency, in line with the Circular Economy principle and follow the government policy of BCG (Bio-Circular-Green Economy).
This partnership’s focus is to provide resources and support on the academic and managerial aspects of the project. Based on their experience and know-how from the recycled plastic road project initiated in 2018, SCG and Dow Thailand Group plan to further their research and development through laboratory-based experiments and on-site testing on private lands such as RIL Industrial Estate in Rayong and Amata City Chonburi. Chiang Mai University will also join this research study and focus on the production process’s academic and environmental impacts. At the same time, the Department of Highways and the Department of Rural Roads will provide support and provide consultation on the standardization of plastic waste usage as an ingredient in asphalt concrete. The success of this project and the ability to implement it across the country would mean an enhancement to the nation’s sustainable plastic waste management following the circular economy principle and a significant improvement to the quality of life of the Thai people.
About 3 tons of plastic waste, equivalent to nearly 900,000 plastic bags, is estimated to be used every 1 kilometer with a width of 6 meters road. To date, through the partnership of SCG, Dow Thailand Group, and other companies from the private sector, 23 tons of plastic waste has been used to construct a 7.7 km prototype asphalt concrete road.
Mr. Sarawut Songsivilai, Director–General of the Department of Highways said, “Department of Highways is a construction and maintenance control agency for highways across the country, more than 70,000 kilometers, per 2 lanes, covering the area nationwide. One of the strategic issues of the Department of Highways is the development and promotion of research and development of Innovation, use of technology, building information technology system and integrating digital technology in the development of highway systems.
Department of Highways has knowledge of both research, analysis and inspection work and there are various standards for road work for over 108 years. The Department of Highways has collaborated with the Department of Rural Roads, SCG, Dow Thailand Group and Chiang Mai University in joint research and development to create new standards by using waste plastic as ingredient in asphalt-concrete mixture to solve the problem of using resources efficiently at this time and It will be an important starting point again for the future of utilizing such waste plastic in construction and maintenance of the routes under the Department of Highways that will benefit economy, society, environment and engineering in order to achieve the aim of jointly developing the nation to create stability, prosperity and sustainability under the 20-year National Strategy.”
Mr. Pathom Chaloeywares, Director General of the Department of Rural Roads (DRR) said, “This MOU is an innovative way to construct roads using plastic waste to reduce asphalt consumption. The use of plastic is repurposing a waste product and contributes to the circular economy ambition.
Many rural communities will benefit from improved roads and the use of plastic supports the government policy for a Bio Circular Economy to achieve sustainability for the environment, society, and community.”
Mr.Roongrote Rangsiyopash, President and CEO of SCG, said, “SCG has focused on incorporating the Circular Economy into the organizational operation and collaborative approach with all sectors for 2 years with an emphasis on resource maximization to tackle the global environmental problems, especially the plastic waste that still lacks effective management. Among the efforts is working with Dow Thailand Group to construct the prototype road that contains plastic waste made to best fit Thai roads, and play a crucial role in promoting proper waste separation to uplift people and society’s quality of life.
SCG is pleased to hear that the Department of Highways and the Department of Rural Roads recognize the benefits of the plastic road project that SCG and Dow Group Thailand have put the best effort into and further the project with Chiang Mai University. SCG will provide technical guidance on the obtainment of plastic waste such as type and quality level, as well as the processing methods such as washing, shredding, and packing to make it ready to use. Besides, SCG will also launch campaigns to promote appropriate waste separation to retrieve plastic waste in the organization or communities for better recycling. The effort aims to accelerate the initiative to become part of the state road standard throughout the country.”
Mr.Chatchai Luanpolcharoenchai, President of Dow Thailand Group, said, “Dow has been implementing the recycled plastic road project in many countries such as the United States, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Our objectives are to find a solution for hard-to-recycle plastics, create value to plastic waste, and at the same time, increase awareness on effective resource usage according to the Circular Economy principle. Since the beginning of the project, we have diverted plastic waste equivalent to more than 50 million pouches.
The recycled plastic road project is beneficial to road construction as it strengthens the asphalt roads and also useful for waste management. The plastic waste is retrieved and added value, which reduces the amount of plastic that otherwise might end up in the environment.
Dow’s sustainability target is to stop the plastic waste from entering the environment and we know that through partnerships, we can sustainably increase the positive impact. Dow Thailand Group is very proud that we have introduced this technology to Thailand, where we have collaborated with SCG. Even more, we are delighted that the Department of Highways, the Department of Rural Roads and Chiang Mai University place importance on the project and join forces. This collaboration creates an excellent opportunity for scale-up. We hope that the partnership will significantly drive plastic’s Circular Economy, which will sustainably reduce the waste problem in Thailand.”
Clinical Professor Niwes Nantachit, President of Chiang Mai University, added, “Chiang Mai University (CMU) is the first regional university in Thailand found in 1964. Approaching to the 55th year of the University, CMU always continues to create samples to inspire people and partners for positive impacts based on UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). CMU is aiming to sustainably develop towards the smart city model with clean and green energy based on the renewable energy concept and good environment. CMU also hopes to expand some positive outputs of this development to communities nearby the University and Chiang Mai province. The showcase of the University environment management is the establishment of the integrated biomass management center. CMU strongly recognizes that municipal wastes are an important problem needed to be solved academically. The center has utilized the integrated solid waste management technology focusing on recycling and reusing those wastes to address the ultimate goal of the integrated waste management process of “Zero Waste”. This could be expanded to target communities in the future. Apart from the success in transforming wastes into renewable energy of the University, CMU has recently initiated the project of using plastic wastes, which are left from the University waste separation prototype plant, as one of hot mix asphalt concrete constituents. Hopefully, shortly, the University road construction and maintenance can fully rely on this recycled plastic waste hot mix asphalt concrete. By doing this, this year, CMU has invested advanced laboratory facilities and the plastic waste-hot mix asphalt mixing prototype plant to strongly build up more knowledge in this field. Finally, CMU is willing to play an academic role of the new road standard development for the hot mix asphalt concrete incorporating plastic waste for Thailand together with the Department of Highway, the Department of Rural Roads, SCG and Dow Chemical Group Thailand limited.”