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Managing Editor  | May 2017

Scottish startup determined to use plastic material to build roads


Several months ago, Plastics eMarket reported on a Dutch collaborative called PlasticRoad that was using recycled plastic material to create prefabricated road structures.

 

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Scottish startup MacRebur is adding plastic pellets to asphalt to make stronger road material. (MacRebur/YouTube)

 

This month a new Scottish startup, MacRebur, has also turned its sights to using plastics to create material for road construction in order to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels, improve road quality, and find a solution to the issue of worldwide plastic waste.

 

According to a feature article on Futurism, Toby McCartney has found a way to mix plastic with asphalt to create a road material that will last longer and is less likely to be riddled with potholes.

 

The article explained, “McCartney’s mix replaces most of the bitumen, a material extracted from oil, that is used as a binding agent in normal roads with plastic pellets. The pellets are made from waste that is destined for landfills, such as the polyethylene that is used in packaging. The plastic waste pellets are then mixed with the usual rocks and a small amount of bitumen at the asphalt plant. The process is exactly the same, no plants don’t need any new equipment.”

 

According to the company website, McCartney got the idea for MacRebur while working for a charity in India. The site continued, “Some of the waste plastics retrieved by the pickers were put into potholes, petrol poured all over them, and the rubbish set alight until the plastics melted into the craters to form a makeshift plastic pothole filler.”

 

Rather than burn the plastic, which would not be an idea supported by most municipalities in the U.K., McCartney joined with two friends to create a process for pelletizing the plastic and add it to the asphalt mix. 

 

MR6 is the patent-pending polymer mixture that MacRebur is marketing to towns and local governments as an environmentally-friendly alternative to standard road materials and as a cost-effective alternative as well, since it will make the roads last longer.

 

Learn more about MacRebur in the BBC video profile below:


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