Government program to reuse plastic in roads | Knowledge Hub | Circle Economy Foundation

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Policy case
Government program to reuse plastic in roads

The Indian government has made the use of waste plastic in road construction mandatory to reduce plastic waste. All roads constructed within 50 km of the periphery of any city with a population of over 500,000 must use a 'plastic mix'. The ‘plastic mix’ (combined with traditional materials) is cheaper than 100 percet bitumen road and increases life expectancy by raising water resistance. An additional income stream for local councils is created from the sale of plastic waste.


A study by the Central Pollution Control Board revealed that India generates 5,600,000 tonne of plastic waste annually, as the city of Delhi, for example, produces close to 7,000 tonne of waste every day, of which over 10 per cent is pure plastic.

Of all the plastic waste, it was also revealed by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) that 43 percent are from packaging and single-use plastics. Consequently, almost 80 percent of total plastic produced in India is discarded. Some of it is either burnt leading to air pollution, ends up in landfills or clogs drains. It chokes animals who eat plastic bags. Plastics found in fields blocks germination and prevent rainwater absorption.


In 2015, the government has made it mandatory for road developers to use waste plastic along with bituminous mixes for road construction to overcome the growing problem of disposal of plastic waste in India’s urban centres.

Plastic waste will have to be used along with hot mixes for constructing bitumen roads within 50 km of periphery of any city that has a population of over 500,000. The mix typically consists of 6-8 percent plastic, while 92-94 percent is bitumen. In case of non-availability of waste plastic, the developer has to seek the road transport & highways ministry’s approval for constructing only bitumen roads.

Besides improving environment sustainability, roads made by plastics are found more durable and cost-effective. Plastic and bitumen bond well together because both are petroleum products. This combination enhances the road’s ability to carry weight, as well as its life. The roads also show greater resistance to damages caused by heavy rains.

In addition, government expected this measure to bring down the cost for road developers for one km of road length. Meanwhile, urban local bodies, which are usually short of financial resources, can make money by selling the plastic waste generated by cities to road developers.


As of July 2021, 703 km of National Highways have been constructed using waste plastic in wearing coat of flexible pavement, which include the 270 km-long Jammu Kashmir National highway.

Since 2018, the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) have also used plastic waste in its roads, and made it mandatory in the construction of arterial roads. Municipality of Tamil Nadu has also built an 11-km road using plastic waste. Overall, India has built 100,000 km of roads in at least 11 states.

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Photo by Zian Fzr on Unsplash

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