They may look like ordinary plastic bottles, but they are concrete slabs of the future for Gibraltar's roads, if a trial scheme which is about to begin proves successful.
Following the 'Gib School Strike 4 Climate Change' and 'Parents for Future' demonstrations earlier this year, and the extensive international media coverage of the serious and very worrying effect of plastics on the environment, especially the oceans, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Planning has embarked on an innovative scheme to use plastic bottles in certain building materials. These will be used for paving slabs or blocks, stamped concrete and kerb stones, among other purposes.
The trial will begin in two areas at Camp Bay car park, where the existing bicycle parking adjacent to the Europa Pool is situated. A new concrete slab with a stamped block-paving concrete design finish will be laid there, and it will contain crosscut plastic from approximately 1,700 bottles.
Apart from concrete slabs, pre-casted conventional paving blocks can also be manufactured using this method of crosscutting plastics. There are 28 large plastic bottles, of the type in the photograph, within each individual block. The quantity of bottles used in each specific block or slab depends upon its specific application, the compressive strength and construction properties required, and can vary.
It should be stressed that the idea behind this scheme is to recycle plastic bottles and re-use the material, without causing unnecessary pressure on the already strained environment.
Paul Balban, Gibraltar's acting Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, said,"We should always try to minimise our dependency on this material but in the interim, there is no better way of dealing with this huge resource destined to rubble heaps and landfills than by making use of it. I am hugely proud that the Ministry will, through this initiative, be able to to contribute positively to the environment in this manner".