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Plastic Roads and Parking Lots

Paving with Plastic: UT Arlington's Breakthrough in Asphalt Parking Lots


An image of workers paving a parking lot with the plastic asphalt

In the pursuit of sustainable innovation, the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) has achieved a remarkable milestone by implementing a complex project that incorporates 4 tons of recycled plastics into asphalt parking lot repairs in two parking lots: Employee F10 and student Lot 49. This is enough uncrushed plastic to fill 15 recycle garbage trucks!  The groundbreaking endeavor not only marks the first-ever application of plastic-infused asphalt in parking lot construction but also exemplifies UTA's commitment to collaboration, student preparation, and environmental stewardship.

At the forefront of this transformative project was a collaboration that brought together diverse stakeholders, including UTA's research community, operations team, and off-campus industry leaders Pavement Services and Austin Asphalt. With their combined expertise and resources, they embarked on an ambitious mission to address the complexities of incorporating recycled plastics into asphalt mixtures, a challenge that had never been tackled on such a scale before.

Image of Dr. Hossain and graduate student

The journey began within UTA's research community in 2020, led by esteemed transportation engineering researcher, Dr. Sahadat Hossain. Dr. Hossain and his team of graduate students conducted extensive laboratory testing funded by the Texas Department of Transportation to evaluate the feasibility and potential benefits of integrating recycled plastics into asphalt mixtures. The results of their research paved the way for the groundbreaking application of plastic-infused asphalt in real-world scenarios.

To turn this innovative concept into a tangible reality, UTA collaborated closely with Civil Engineering, Parking and Transportation, and the Office of Facilities Management. Leveraging their expertise in managing and maintaining the university's infrastructure, these teams played a vital role in seamlessly integrating the plastic-infused asphalt research into existing parking lots projects. Their meticulous planning and execution ensured that the project met the highest standards of structural integrity and durability.

UTA's commitment to sustainability and student preparation played a significant role in the successful implementation of this complex project. The university's Parking & Transportation department provided essential funding, creating an invaluable opportunity for students to engage in hands-on, real-world projects. By participating in the Plastic Roads Parking Lot Project, students gained practical experience that prepared them for careers at the forefront of sustainability that will drive a greener future.

This pioneering project not only extends the lifespan of asphalt parking lots but also contributes to environmental conservation by diverting plastic waste from landfills. The incorporation of recycled plastics into the asphalt mixtures brings multiple benefits, including increased longevity, reduced maintenance requirements, and significant cost savings for institutions like UTA and external agencies over the life of the parking lot.

The first application of plastic-infused asphalt in parking lots represents a breakthrough in sustainable construction practices. By utilizing recycled plastics, UTA demonstrates its commitment to environmental stewardship, setting an example for other institutions and organizations to follow. This accomplishment positions UTA as a leader in sustainable innovation and solidifies its reputation as a hub for cutting-edge research and practical solutions.

group photo of partners

As the Plastic Roads Parking Lot Project continues to pave the way for future applications of plastic-infused asphalt, UTA remains dedicated to ongoing evaluation and improvement. By monitoring the performance of the parking lots, UTA researchers can gather valuable data to refine asphalt mix recipes, further optimizing their structural integrity and durability. This commitment to continuous improvement ensures that UTA stays at the forefront of sustainable practices in parking lot construction.

The implementation of plastic-infused asphalt in UTA's parking lots is a testament to the power of collaboration, environmental consciousness, and student preparation. By bringing together the expertise of its research community, operations team, and industry leaders, UTA has successfully achieved a groundbreaking milestone in sustainable infrastructure development. This accomplishment not only benefits the university but also contributes to a greener future, where innovative solutions and the next generation of sustainability leaders shape a more environmentally conscious world.

To learn more about this innovative project, contact Dr. Greg Hladik, Executive Director of Auxiliary Services at