"Plastic roads": Plastic waste technology could be possible solution to Stockton's potholes

Pothole Credit: ITV News

Plastic roads are being examined as a possible solution to Stockton's pothole-hit highways and squeezed budgets. 

Parts of the UK already use asphalt mixed with waste plastic on some roads - with Cumbria, Newcastle and County Durham seeing polymers laid on some stretches.

Now, Stockton Council officials have revealed they're looking at the technology after a £1.6m gap in this year's carriageway maintenance budget was revealed. 

Plastic roads, or road materials mixed with waste plastic, have been used for the past two decades around the world. 

The idea behind the move is that plastic-bitumen composites are seen as more hard wearing than standard asphalt concrete roads - suffering less from rutting and water ingress. Using these plastics also re-uses waste that is set to go to landfill otherwise. 

Select Committee Meeting

A report for Monday's place select committee showed £3.2m was needed to keep Stockton's carriageways in their current condition - but less than £1.6m is available in the budget for this year. 

Highways officer Simon Milner told the panel the council was looking at plastic and rubber roads as part of its reviews of maintenance contracts. 

He added, "It's with a view to looking at implementing them in terms of climate change and doing our bit for the environment.

"But it's also making sure if we do that, the roads stand up to the pressures and the amount of traffic on the local network."

Council engineer Ian Raine told councillors the road from Wynyard and Sedgefield already had a proportion of plastic in it. 

"I travel on that road on a daily basis so I'm always keeping an eye on things," he added. 

In 2019, the Department for Transport granted £1.6m to extend a trial on plastic roads in Cumbria involving plastic road building firm MacRebur.

Ingleby Barwick councillor Ken Dixon was one of two members to trigger a review into potholes and surface water flooding across Stockton in response to complaints from residents. 

The pothole and flooding probe will look at whether new materials could be used to improve the quality of roads in the borough. 

It will continue next month.