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Iowa DOT testing recycled plastic in asphalt to help roads last longer

The Iowa DOT says it is experimenting with recycled plastic in asphalt.
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 8:44 AM CST
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DES MOINES, Iowa (WOI) - The Iowa Department of Transportation says it is experimenting with recycled plastic in asphalt to help roads last longer.

In 2016, the company Construction Material Testing approached the DOT about using a plastic mixture made up of polystyrene beads. It’s called NVI NewRoad Bead Technology.

“It’s material that is supposed to increase the life of the pavement, and based on our initial study before recommending it, makes asphalt more durable,” Doug Clement, president of Construction Material Testing, said.

Those beads were used in about 500 tons of asphalt on parts of a road in Des Moines.

Shane Fetters, a field technician with the Iowa DOT, said the results so far show the road is holding up better. Fetter expects roads using the mix should have less cracking, and they should last longer, meaning they’ll need to be replaced less often.

The DOT plans to cut out parts of the road using the plastic and regular asphalt. Then they’ll compare how each holds up to see if this can be used on more Iowa roads.

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