Holland, Mich.-based recycler PADNOS is a collaborator in a new process where recycled plastic film can be used in asphalt paving projects. In November, Meijer used recycled polymer modified asphalt (RPMA) in a parking lot at its Holland store. The three-phase pilot project used 12,500 pounds of post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR), the equivalent weight of 944,000 plastic grocery bags.

PADNOS aggregated Meijer’s recycled plastics and converted them into usable PCR content. K-Tech Specialty Coatings, an Indiana-based asphalt emulsion company, modified the base asphalt binder with Dow’s ELVALOY™ Reactive Elastomeric Terpolymer (RET) and PCR content. Indiana-based Rieth-Riley Construction produced the final hot-mix asphalt and paved the Meijer parking lot and gas station.

“Meijer operates under the philosophy that to be a good company, we must be a good neighbor and that often means working with other likeminded companies on a common goal,” states Rick Keyes, Meijer president & CEO. “We are committed to lessening our impact on the environment and are pleased to partner with our customers and Dow in the largest in-state project of this kind to better demonstrate our commitment to a circular economy through recycling and reusing plastic to better ensure a more sustainable future.”

All of the recycled plastic used for the parking lot pilot project came from Meijer customers through the retailer’s in-store plastic film recycling program. In 2014, Meijer placed collection bins inside the front entrances of its stores for customers to deposit clean, dry plastic bags and films, including single-use, bread, dry cleaning, produce and water softener bags. In 2021, Meijer expects it will recycle 6 million pounds of plastics through this program.

C.J. DuBois, Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics’ North American paving application development leader, says the project is a perfect example of how plastics used to keep food safe and fresh can have a new life in infrastructure projects. “Our collaboration with Meijer began two years ago,” he explains. “This RPMA parking lot made with recycled content and our ELVALOY™ RET is just one example of how we’re continually creating new technologies and initiatives to transform used plastics into functional and valuable solutions.”

Dow began working on similar projects in Indonesia in 2017, partnering with the Indonesian government towards its goal of reducing plastic waste in the ocean by 70 percent by 2025. In August 2021, Dow completed an RPMA public street at the University of Missouri. Before that, Dow completed two RPMA roads at the company’s Freeport, Texas site; two roads at Dow Sabine River Operations in Orange, Texas, where ELVALOY™ RET is produced; and four public roads and two parking lots in Michigan. In all, 14,000 pounds of PCR plastics or more than 1 million plastic bags went into paving projects.

The RPMA projects represent some of the efforts Dow is making to reach its 2030 target to enable 1 million metric tons of plastic to be collected, reused or recycled through direct actions and partnerships.

Photo courtesy of Dow. Caption: Recycled plastic bags come full circle to Meijer’s store parking lot in Holland, Mich.