Interestingly, these are also more durable, cheap and environmentally-friendly than normal asphalt roads
The Scotland-based start-up MacRebur has come up with a new way to make use of the thousand tons of plastic waste that we produce: to create cheap but yet 60% stronger and 10 times longer-lasting roads in comparison to normal asphalt-based ones. The engineer Toby McCartney was inspired to design and create ‘plastic roads’ after spending time in India. There, he witnessed first-hand the severe problem of plastic pollution but also came across an interesting concept: he saw locals fixing holes in the road by putting plastic waste into them and then burning it in order for it to melt. When he returned home, he created MacRebur together with friends Nick Burnett and Gordon Reid, and his own driveway was the first plastic road they constructed.
The recycled plastic (coming from household and commercial waste as well as farm waste) is turned into small pellets of waste plastic, the so-called MR6 pellets, for which MacRebur has a UK and EU patent. These pellets, which are then mixed with other road-making materials like rock, sand, and limestone, largely replace traditional oil-based bitumen that is used to bind roads together. A plant worker told the BBC that the process is actually the same “as mixing the conventional way with additions into a bitumen product.”
In 2016, MacRebur beat 10,000 other companies in Virgin’s Voom competition and secured £1million and praise from Virgin founder Richard Branson, while last February, the company successfully completed a crowdfunding campaign via the Seedrs platform. They managed to raise more than £1.2 Million in funds for a global sales drive, when the initial target was £590,000.
For the time being, the roads are being put down in Cumbria County and Dumfriesshire, in northwest England, as well as on a runway at Carlisle Airport. MacRebur, aiming for a 0.25% share of the global asphalt market, is currently targeting Australia, South America, Africa and Europe.
Images via MacRebur facebook