Alberta Minister wants to repurpose plastic waste for highway asphalt

Rachel Emmanuel

November 17, 2022

Alberta’s Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors is examining how to repurpose plastic waste and recycled plastics as a binder for highway asphalt.

Alberta Minister wants to repurpose plastic waste for highway asphalt
Alberta Minister wants to repurpose plastic waste for highway asphalt.

Devin Dreeshen says “Albertans may be driving over their old Coke bottles going forward.”

“I think it’s just a really neat example of ‘how do you have smart, conservative environmentalism,'” he told The Counter Signal.

“You’re promoting new technology and new techniques rather than dumb socialist environmentalism, which is all about bans and taxes.”

In a mandate letter to Dreeshen on Nov. 9, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith charged the minister with exploring “innovative products and methods to reduce the cost of better maintaining Alberta’s highway system.”

Dreeshen said there’s already a highway east of Edmonton with different test strips of recycled asphalt. The pilot project is ongoing to see what works, and he said the strips are tested yearly to see how they perform.

He referred to the efforts as a “made in Alberta solution” to build more sustainable and cheaper roads.

“It’s taking the environmental problems of plastic waste and using it in constructive, new techniques,” he said.

Dreeshen said his approach contrasts socialist environmentalism, which is about the things you can’t do.

“You can’t do this; you can’t do that. You have to wait longer and just enjoy your life less,” he explained.

“My focus in this ministry is we have a problem (so) let’s try to actually solve that specific problem, and not use it as an excuse to social engineer people. Because making people miserable should be a flaw, not a goal of environmental policy.”

Dreeshen was given his ministerial portfolio on Oct. 21, when Smith named her first cabinet. He will also oversee Smith’s request to work with the City of Calgary on developing hydrogen-powered trains to Banff.

In a letter to Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek on Tuesday, Smith asked the mayor to consider expanding Calgary’s LRT system to the Calgary International Airport. She also wants to examine options around another rail link between Calgary and Canmore/Banff.

“Such a line would benefit Calgarians, Albertans and all visitors to our province in accessing one of the world’s greatest natural wonders: our provincial and national mountain park system,” Smith wrote.

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