From Waste to Pavement: Using Marine Plastic for Station Front Rotary in Wakayama

Marine plastic collected from nearby Tomogashima Island is being used to repave a bus rotary in Wakayama City and raise awareness on recycling and the SDGs.

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The city of Wakayama will use marine plastic waste collected in the city to pave the bus rotary in front of Nankai Wakayamashi Station. An asphalt modifier manufactured by Tokyo-based Kao Corporation will incorporate the plastic waste to improve the durability of asphalt. The project is scheduled to be completed in December and is part of the city's efforts to promote the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The city has been working with Kao, which operates a plant in Wakayama, on the SDGs. 

From Beach to Station Front

The waste to be utilized are plastic bottles that have washed ashore on Tomogashima, an island off Wakayama's coast. According to the city, the large amount of trash washed ashore on Tomogashima has been a problem for some time.

marine plastic
Wakayama City staff and Kao employees collecting PET bottles on Tomogashima in June 2023. (Photo courtesy of Wakayama City)

The city signed a comprehensive partnership agreement with Kao Corporation in 2020 to promote the SDGs. Kao was looking into ways to recycle waste utilizing its own technologies. The company opted to use the marine plastic waste as one of the raw materials in a modifier that improves the durability of asphalt. Kao had developed a modifier using waste plastic bottles that it put on the market in 2020. The company decided to apply this technology in Wakayama.

In June 2023, Kao employees and city officials visited Tomogashima and collected 1,800 PET bottles in one day. Bottles that were relatively clean and not deteriorated were washed, crushed, and used as raw material for the modifier. The asphalt mixed with this modifier will be used to pave the bus stops of the station front's rotary.

Kao reported achieving the same level of performance as its existing product. But at present the company has no concrete plans to continue using marine plastic waste or to commercialize the new modifier. "The purpose of this initiative is to reuse marine plastic waste to raise awareness on the circular society among citizens," a company representative explained.

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