Thailand pioneers a heavy metal highway

Thailand’s steelmakers Millcon is hitting the road with a scrap metal thoroughfare in an attempt to add value to its output, contribute to the circular economy and make Thailand’s roads more durable.

“This is a sustainable solution for solid waste and a novel way to make value-added products,” said Sureerat Leesawadtrakul, Millcon Steel’s President for business innovation.

Millcon is located in Rayong province, part of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), the Kingdom’s advanced development zone. Although steel is generally regarded as an old-style industry, Millcon is showing that even old-fashioned industrial businesses can find ways to revolutionize and go at least partially green.

The company used iron slag, a byproduct of the smelting process, to pave the access road to its plant at the industrial estate. Slag is a glass-like substance that can be used in some construction materials and as fertilizer. Some manufacturers, however, regard it as unwanted waste and dump it in landfills.

Other companies in Thailand have been experimenting with mixing various types of waste into construction materials. Siam Cement has been integrating plastic waste into materials it uses to pave roads. The largest building materials company in the region, Siam Cement, said the new formula is better resistant to rain and water and is longer lasting.

Millcon said it is planning to propose to the government that it encourages the use of iron-slag-derived materials for road construction after the success of the road construction at its industrial estate.

“If the government approves the idea, the country will have a new way to reduce waste from the steel-making process and, at the same time, make a value-added product,” Sureerat said.

The proposal is in line with the government’s advocacy for adopting principles of the circular economy: careful use of resources, recycling and reusing what people take from the earth.

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