Hawaii Department of Transportation receives funding for plastic recycling research

The department says a coming plastic recycling research facility will be the first of its kind in the state.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) has been awarded $312,000 in competitive grant funding toward the construction of a plastic recycling research facility, which it says will be the first of its kind in the state.

The grant award is part of the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Climate Challenge Initiative to support the efforts of state DOTs in carbon reduction and sustainable construction materials. HDOT says it intends to combine the FHWA grant with other funding sources to establish the plastic recycling research facility, which it anticipates will cost around $6 million.

The department says it expects the facility to be operational within two years and will allow for the conversion of plastic scrap into new products that can be used in transportation infrastructure.

“Having a facility in Hawaii will fill a real need for sustainable materials,” HDOT Deputy Director for Highways Ed Sniffen says. “Keeping our own waste plastic out of landfills in a manner that will improve our roads and environment will be a tremendous benefit to everyone in Hawaii.”

The research facility is the latest in HDOT’s exploration of sustainable transportation initiatives. Earlier this month, it announced that it would be testing an asphalt mix made with recycled plastic polymer on a road in Ewa, located on the west side of Oahu. The department said at the time that the 1,950 tons of modified asphalt used in the pilot project would keep the equivalent of 195,000 plastic bottles out of landfills.

Paving began on Oct. 11 and is expected to be complete by late July 2023.