Dutch cyclists have traveled the world's first bicycle route made of plastic discarded this week, in a move to reduce the millions of tons wasted each year.
The 30-meter cycle route in the northern city of Zwolle, 1,300 years old, contains the equivalent of 500,000 plastic bottle caps and is estimated to be two or three times longer than traditional roads.
Millions of kilograms of plastic bottles, containers and other debris are thrown into the ocean each year, killing marine life and entering the human food chain, said the United Nations Environment Program.
"This first pilot is a big step towards a sustainable and future proof road made of recycled plastic waste," the inventors of the road, Anne Koudstaal and Simon Jorritsma, said in a statement.
Prominent environmental expert Guus Velders welcomed the new initiative of Dutch engineering firm KWS, pipe maker Wavin and France's largest oil company Total, saying it was a "positive step" towards more circular use of materials.
However, Emma Priestland, an activist with Friends of the Earth, said that the solution to plastic pollution is to prevent unnecessary use in the first place.
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"Using plastic to make bike lanes can help keep plastics out of the landfill and … but it is not yet clear what happens to this plastic as the road surface wears out," he said in a statement.
Cities such as London, Amsterdam and Paris are studying how they can move to a circular economy: reusing products, spare parts and materials, without producing waste or pollution and using less resources and energy.
The Dutch government is committed to halving its use of raw materials by 2030 and accelerating its shift towards a so-called "circular economy".
A second cycleway is expected to open in November in the Dutch town of Giethoorn.