This is the Onion Ditch Bridge in Logan County, Ohio.

It’s made of 100 percent recycled materials — detergent and shampoo bottles, car bumpers, dashboards. In fact, it’s the longest recycled bridge in the country. OK, it’s still not very long — only 24.6 feet. But it’s sturdy! And it’s 80 percent post-consumer waste!

brdige copy


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Impervious to insect infestations and exceptionally durable, the 100 percent recycled bridge is made of materials that will not absorb moisture or rot. The anticipated 50 year life span combined with the earth-friendly materials contributed to the county’s decision to contract AXION, according to engineer Scott Coleman, who added that the county has plans to achieve zero waste by 2020.

This technology has been around for decades, but it’s only now that it’s been used to its fullest extent. Roads & Bridges:

Structural thermoplastic composite lumber is not new. Beyond a novelty, its development began as an experiment in the early 1990s at Rutgers University. Could bridges be built that did not degrade or degraded at significantly lower rates than those constructed from legacy building materials? …

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[T]he development of structural plastic lumber — also known as recycled structural plastic composite or structural thermoplastic — began as a potential solution. Combining durable and rigid post-consumer and post-industrial plastics, structural members were created for bridge superstructures. In 1998, a thermoplastic pilot bridge superstructure designed by McLaren Engineering — combining plastic composite technologies from four manufacturers — was installed at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Although the steel I-beams remained in place, structural plastic members were used for the joists, decking and railing. Designed for light vehicular loads — e.g., Humvees — the bridge shows little signs of wear today.

So, all 24.6 feet of the Onion Ditch Bridge will be with us for a very long time. Now we just have to figure out how to beat this record. Who’s going to make it all the way to 25 feet?