General Article Plastic bag ban triggers innovative asphalt

Topic Selected: Waste and Recycling
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Being environmental entrepreneurs was never on the minds of brothers Rasool and Ahmed Khan: they were content running their plastic bag business. Until, that is, a possible ban on plastic bags in Karnataka compelled them to do a rethink. Instead of shutting up shop, they scouted around for viable alternatives.

Intrigued by stories of plastic being used as a constituent of road tar, they began to experiment. With advice from experts at Bangalore University, they started with pothole repair, using a mix of plastic, tar, stones and aggregate. The results were encouraging: the holes stayed filled. Soon their company, now reborn as KK Plastic Waste Management, had won the backing of the Central Roads Research Institute in Delhi, and a patent too.

The process works like this. Plastic bags are shredded, stored for a week to remove moisture, then mixed with asphalt to produce a tough polymerised compound. The resultant substance is stronger than conventional road surfaces, and lasts twice...

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