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Everyone who drives a car (or who rides in one) is familiar with the unexpected jolt when the vehicle hits a pot hole in the road surface. The rise in car ownership and the expansion of road transport of goods are placing Britain's roads under increasing stress at a time when Local Authorities have difficulty funding all their work. The repair and re-surfacing of roads lead to diversions and the exasperation of all concerned.

There is a possible remedy now being tried out which at the same time finds a use for thrown away plastic bottles which have largely replaced the ones made of glass as in days gone by. Road surfaces are largely made up of crushed rock held together by bitumen and an additive called a polymer, which gives the mixture extra strength and elasticity. The polymer is a by-product of the oil industry and has to be paid for by the user, adding a lot to the cost of the roads.

Two British engineers, however, have found that the plastic used for drinks bottles contains polymers of a similar type as those now bought from the oil giants, and can be obtained at a saving of £10 a ton of material. This can add up to several millions in a year.

On tests on heavily used roads in Cumbria, the material containing the new pellets made from old bottles proved to have less than half the wear of that previously used, at a great saving in cost.

Recycling is not just an interesting side line, to be taken up by a few enthusiasts, it is a dire necessity if we are to clean up the litter left on the grass verges of our roads, in car parks and on our beaches. At the same time it makes sound economic sense.

P.S. With winter approaching and the turning up of thermostats there are also those that light fires or have wood burning stoves. If so, I have several boxes of dry wood offcuts each around 8Kg in weight available at £2 per box in aid of local charities.

Bob Weighton

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