The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape has scooped up two environmental awards in the prestigious Eco-Logic Awards hosted by Enviropaedia yesterday. The DA EC won Gold in the Eco-Innovation category and Silver in the Eco-Build category for the innovative plastic road, also known as the eco-friendly road which was built as a pilot project in Jeffrey’s Bay in the DA-run Kouga Municipality.
The event aims to identify individuals, organisations and communities that positively contribute to a sustainable world. The event is widely recognised as South Africa’s most glamorous green eco-calendar event and is made up out of 12 environmental categories, amongst others the Climate Change Award, the Water Conservation Award, the Eco-Build Award and the Eco-Innovation Award.
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.
The DA will remain the only party that is forward thinking, innovative and able to embrace the fourth industrial revolution in moving into the future, creating jobs and embracing change