Meet the Man Transforming Discarded Plastic into Paved Streets in India

Learn all about how Rajagopalan Vasudevan's inspiring innovation is saving the planet and providing infrastructure at the same time

Jul 22, 2014

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"When life gives you plastic waste, make roads." That's the philosophy behind chemistry professor Rajagopalan Vasudevan's genius innovation that is helping turn India's trash into a very useful resource. Known as "Plastic Man," Vasudevan has devised a way to transform common plastic litter into a substitute for bitumen — the main ingredient in asphalt used for road construction. Instead of seeing increased levels of plastic waste due to India's rapid economic development as a burden, eternal optimist Vasudevan sees the trash as a treasure trove of untapped resources. His method not only solves environmental issues, it also saves money because the cheaper plastic substitute replaces as much as 15 percent of the more expensive bitumen usually used.
While roads made of garbage may sound far-fetched, more than 3,000 miles (5,000 kilometers) of plastic thoroughfares have been laid in at least 11 Indian states to date. Seeing as the groundbreaking method requires no large investments or changes to existing road-laying procedures, it looks like Rajagopalan Vasudevan's streets paved with plastic are here to stay. 

Source: BusinessWeek

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