THUWAL — On April 1, 2022, hundreds of volunteers from KAUST and the broader community in Thuwal gathered to remove waste from verges on a section of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) to Jeddah Highway in a coordinated event led by KAUST’s Strategic National Advancement’s (SNA) Social Responsibility team as part of KAUST’s “Green Roads” initiative.

The Green Roads initiative marks KAUST’s unwavering commitment to developing a greener future through the sustainable development of road infrastructure. The initiative which was developed in collaboration with Dow Chemical and NAPCO, aims at protecting the environment through a framework that encompasses the four “R”s: Reduce, Remove, Reuse, and Recycle.

Plastic waste collected will be used to demonstrate the potential of an innovative process technology that allows plastic to manufacture into sustainable bitumen using a conventional modifier. Following the event, the goal is to construct a road right in the heart of KAUST with the new sustainable road material.

During the Green Roads event, volunteers removed waste from the side of Highway 55 — stretching across a total distance of 90 kilometers — between the KAUST and Dhahban junctions. Building on Dow’s (Recycled polymer modified asphalt — RPMA) process technology, and Napco Recom’s advanced recycling and compounding technologies, the goal of the initiative is to construct a Green Road at KAUST with the sustainable road material developed with the recycled plastic.

The Green Road is expected to sustain increased exposure to tough external factors such as high temperatures and traffic loads, leading to reduced road maintenance. Averda have also offered their support to the initiative by removing any toxic or non-collectable items from the sides of the highway.

Dr. Najah Ashry, senior associate to the president and vice president Strategic National Advancement at KAUST, explained: “In light of the Kingdom’s unprecedented infrastructure growth and expansion, the Green Roads Initiative illustrates the enormous potential for an innovative sustainable solution that can reduce the environmental impact of road construction as well as the costs associated with maintaining road infrastructure.

“We are proud to have KAUST champion an initiative that helps realize the sustainability goals of both the Kingdom and the United Nations, while engaging and empowering local communities to play their part in the transition from a linear economy to a circular one, tackling global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution.”

Professor Tony Chan, president of KAUST, commented on KAUST’s role in contributing to environmental sustainability: “In line with our commitment to promote sustainable practices in our community, Saudi Arabia, and around the world, the Green Roads Initiative underpins our focus on exploring ways in which we can cooperate with partners to accelerate the development of technologies that can best contribute to a sustainable future, and position Saudi Arabia as one of the most innovative, progressive, and environmentally sustainable countries in the world.

“We continue to lead by example, helping foster sustainability across the Kingdom in an effort to build a better future for the Kingdom and the next generation.” 

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