Sustainable embankment in the De Hoge Vaart canal at Almere

Traditionally, embankments are made of concrete or hardwood. These materials have one major disadvantage and that is that over time, they start rotting and crumbling away where they meet the water and thus require regular maintenance and replacement. The Province of Flevoland in the Netherlands will soon start a pilot that involves placing a sustainable embankment along the Hoge Vaart waterway at close to the town of Almere. The new embankment, which will be approximately 80 metre long, will be made of softwood encased in recycled plastic and part of it will be below the water’s surface.

What makes the embankment sustainable is that it will be made of recycled household waste from Almere itself. It is produced by the Groene Plastic Fabriek (Save Plastics) in Almere that recycles traditionally hard to recycle plastic waste from households in Almere and turns it into sustainable products such as street furniture and, now, embankments.

The Province of Flevoland’s and Save Plastics’ shared objective in the pilot is to assess if the dam walls meet, or even exceed, the current standards of existing materials, and if they are a good and sustainable option in the long term. In recent years, the municipality of Almere and Save Plastics entered into an innovation partnership when Save Plastics chose Almere in which to build a plastic recycling plant to convert local domestic plastic waste into valuable plastic products.

The Regional Minister of the Province of Flevoland, Cora Smelik, is proud both of the collaboration between the Province and Save Plastics and that Flevoland will be the testing ground for this sustainable new embankment. The embankment will be installed by the engineering Infrastructure Department. Its representative, Jan de Reus, adds that the pilot fits well into Infra’s Sustainability Programme Goals. The department is working on reducing the CO2 footprint of its infrastructure while increasing the proportion of circular materials used.

Save Plastics is part of the European TRANSFORM-CE project. TRANSFORM-CE seeks to convert all types of single-use plastic collected from municipal and commercial waste streams into raw materials to be used to manufacture valuable new products. In 2018, the Province of Flevoland and other MRA government authorities started purchasing the Save Plastics’ pilot products for use in the public space. These products included street furniture, pontoons, even a tiny house, and soon a recycled plastic embankment.

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