Contributor series: "Pave the Road, plastic, sustainability and the planet" by Alina Robinson
Posted on: 29 November 2022 by Alina Robinson in Issue 4
The award winning documentary, 'Pave the Road', follows the 10-year journey of Kelly Mason, who developed a new way to prevent plastics from going to landfill, instead using them to build roads in Central America. Thanks to second-year Marketing student, Alina Robinson, for telling us all about it.
Last year I had the pleasure of working alongside Kelly Mason in promoting her 'Pave the Road' film project. The documentary project focused on removing plastic waste from landfills and from the ocean, in turn, using it within road construction.
The film is award winning, rightly accredited and quickly gaining attention due to the intensity and self-dedication Kelly had as a mother coming into her role of protecting the earth for her children’s future as well as her own. She filmed the documentary over ten years which steadily followed her remarkable journey and battle with the highest powers of Central America over the unpaved roads in her home town Cóbano, Puntarenas, Costa Rica. The unpaved roads were causing dust pollution within her area, affecting the health of those all around her; but this was not the only problem. Costa Rica was facing a plastic waste crisis. Alone, the country generates 2000 tones of plastic waste everyday, with only 9% of renewable waste making it to the recycling facility. This knowledge helped to spur Kelly’s creativity and the outcome? To combine the two problems together to create a viable solution; green roads. Together Kelly Mason and the laboratory (LANAMME-UCR) successfully achieved this and furthermore, Kelly eventually succeeded in writing a environmental legislation mandating the use of recycled waste into every road construction in Costa Rica.
The science behind this sustainable solution
Plastic waste modifiers can be used to transform one type of asphalt used in road construction to multiple types. This essentially means that the modified asphalt can perform at a higher level than the everyday asphalt used, meeting industry standards to a higher level and improving the lifespan of roads by 2-3 times more than unmodified asphalt. In turn, this reduces pollution and saves costs on road maintenance. Infusing roads with plastic waste modifiers closes the loop on single use plastics and prevents both methane and carbon dioxide pollution. Scientifically, this solution could lead to the expulsion of landfills and the removal of plastic in our oceans. These ‘green roads’ are an active solution to the climate change crisis that the world is currently and undisputedly facing.
The importance of sustainable projects and businesses in the corporate world
Projects, like ‘Pave the Road’ and eco-thinking businesses are vital to change the face of the corporate world, who are majorly responsible for the climate crisis. The idea of sustainability and planet friendly needs to be imprinted within the ‘ethos’ of all businesses to evoke world change. Businesses and their marketing holds a considerate amount of power in influencing consumer behaviour when purchasing. This is reflected in the fact that 33% of consumers see brands as responsible for the environment. Furthermore, being more sustainable is considerably beneficial to the business through changing their operational processes to being more ethical. 61% of consumers are more likely to switch to a brand that is more environmentally friendly, so isn’t this a motivator for all businesses to consider ethical and sustainable practices? Although expensive, being sustainable does show a responsibility to the planet and the people; improving brand image in a world where customers are becoming more environmentally aware. Projects like 'Pave the Road' start this chain reaction, when more awareness is generated the more the ideas being presented are responded too.
The sustainable route
My work with 'Pave the Road' has taught me that we can only beat climate change together. Through this project my knowledge of sustainability has improved immensely and proves vital as a marketing student. My adventure with Pave the road was only the beginning and I am continuing on my route to advocating sustainability and eco-friendly practices within the business sector. Please visit Pavetheroad.net for more information on the Projects journey and the dedicated 10 year campaign of Kelly Mason. Also, if you are intrigued by the solutions to a sustainable world and plastic roads, I invite you to watch the documentary.