With bad weather, ever-growing heavy traffic, and inconsistent road maintenance efforts, what starts as a small crack on the road loosens and wears away, and ends up forming a pothole. This perennial problem is dangerous to both drivers and pedestrians, and can cause serious and costly damages to cars. Even though potholes cause a significant decrease in road safety, they continue to appear in countless places as repairing them using asphalt is an expensive and time-consuming process. In 2017, in the UK alone, more than two million potholes were fixed, costing around 155 million USD. In addition, fixing potholes using asphalt is extremely harmful to the environment. In fact, paving 1 cm of road releases around 50 kg of carbon dioxide. Potholes are not the only road defect to consider. Mis-leveled manholes also cause serious damages to road users, and their repair is a far more complex, costly and time-consuming process than that of potholes. With the fast-growing worldwide population and increased urbanization, maintaining safe roads is becoming a more pressing issue as more people will be exposed to the dangers of road defects. In Lebanon, 50% of car accidents are a result of poor road conditions, such as potholes and mis-leveled manholes.
This is where PLASFILL comes in. Over the past year, the PLASFILL founders worked tirelessly to develop a new and unique mix made up of non-biodegradable waste that allows contractors and municipalities to replace the use of asphalt in road maintenance, in an eco-friendly manner. The mix was tested both in the lab and on the field and showed positive results. Compared to regular asphalt, it is not only more affordable, but is also nine time stronger and lasts twice as long! It is made up of a mix of randomly dumped non-biodegradable waste, such as plastic. The mix is used to fabricate our two products – PLASFILL pallets (for pothole repair) and PLASFILL tiles (for manhole re-leveling).
In order to fix a pothole, the pallets are poured and melted in layers directly in the pothole. The melted pallets quickly take the shape of the pothole and harden. And in order to re-level a manhole, the pre-fabricated tile is attached to the manhole’s cover. This process allows a significant reduction in maintenance time and cost. In fact, for pothole filling and for manhole re-leveling, PLASFILL allows a 30% and 70% reduction in cost, respectively. Not only is the process both time and cost-effective, but it also allows an 88% reduction in road maintenance carbon footprint. In fact, to fill an average sized pothole (20 cm diameter, 3 cm deep), PLASFILL uses 50 milk jugs worth of plastic, and to re-level a manhole, 420 milk jugs.
The founders of PLASFILL are a team of engineers with contracting and business experience. Working with a team of advisors, including experts in road materials, chemical engineering and plastic production, the team is determined to provide top quality products to contractors and municipalities. PLASFILL’s vision is to provide safer roads while decreasing the amount of randomly dumped non-biodegradable waste, aligning with many of the UN’s SDGs.
The road maintenance market is a $30 billion one in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region alone. While other players have tried incorporating waste materials into their road mix, we remain the only ones completely replacing asphalt and providing an eco-conscious and durable solution for both potholes and mis-leveled manholes. In less than a year, PLASFILL received a $10,000 investment and won first place at the HULT Prize Lebanon Nationals. The team is currently in talks with several potential customers. It is now time for you to join the new era of road maintenance!