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Tuesday 30 July 2019

Bridges of plastic – used bottles recycled in council’s repair and maintenance programme

Walkers using two of the borough’s footbridges will be treading on recycled plastic bottles as Cheshire East Council takes a further step on its climate change strategy.

With ‘oceans’ of plastic becoming a world-wide issue, the council has commissioned an eco-friendly way of putting old plastic bottles to a useful purpose.

The council’s highways bridges and structures team is about to embark on a second project – using glass reinforced plastic (GRP) – to repair a footbridge over the Silk Road in Macclesfield. This follows the success of its first scheme in Wistaston, where the material was used to resurface a footbridge across Wistaston Brook, in Crewe.

The area is known as ‘Joey the Swan’ and is popular with walkers and cyclists.*

Each square metre of new replacement decking contains a foam infill made from more than 4,500 plastic bottles. The product is produced by specialist surfacing and structures manufacturer Polydeck, using a fully-recyclable composite ‘green’ foam material produced by their supplier in Oldham.

The process and end product uses hundreds of thousands of single-use plastic bottles, which are transformed into an inner-core foam, which is used in a wide range of industrial applications. 

Councillor Brian Roberts, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for highways and waste, said: “The council is fully committed to using recycled materials wherever we can provide a sustainable and cost-effective solution.

“The work that has been carried out on the footbridge in Wistaston has completely transformed its appearance, as the old timber decking was in a poor state of repair and in need of restoration.

“The council will be looking at other opportunities to apply recycled materials and the latest project to use this material will be the footbridge across the Silk Road, in Macclesfield, which is about to undergo extensive maintenance work.”

Chris Spooner, managing director of Polydeck, said: “This is a sustainable and enterprising application for recycled single-use plastic bottles. We are pleased to be part of the process for addressing one of the biggest problems facing the planet today.

“Cheshire East Council is one of a growing number of end-users who are recognising the value of utilising an eco-product of this type in such a practical way.”

Ian McLauchlan, bridges and structures manager for Cheshire East Council’s highways team, said: “This is a long-lasting, aesthetically pleasing material, which is non-slip, doesn’t rot like timber and does not gather moss or weeds.

“Maintenance is minimal, saving money for the council and the material is ideal for use in difficult to access, rural locations.”

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