Scotland-based plastic road manufacturer MacRebur is on a mission. The company says it has developed a solution that can metaphorically kill two birds with one stone, by helping to solve the waste plastic epidemic and to improve the poor quality of roads around the world today.
Tired of the potholes in the road in from of his house, MacRebur CEO Toby McCartney remembered something he’d seen people in Southern India do to fix potholes. They plugged the hole with waste plastic and rubbish from landfills, poured it over with diesel and set it alight, so that the plastic melted and sealed the hole, he said. He wondered whether they might be on to something.
Together with two partners, he started to explore whether the waste plastics in the UK could somehow be used to strengthen the roads in the UK. After 18 months of testing and trials, they came up with a product meeting British and European standards that used non-reyclable plastic waste - from the oceans, from landfills - mixed with asphalt for road repairs and construction.
The company takes the waste plastics, pelletises them and replaces part of the bitumen in a road mix, “to create a stronger, longer-lasting road, that reduces the road’s pothole problem,” explained MacCartney.
MacRebur sells its pellets - called MR6, MR8, and MR10 - into the international asphalt market and is now a trademarked name in 13 countries. The company also has a PCT in place to patent its product for worldwide intellectual property protection.
The company has already laid roads in countries from Bahrein to New Zealand, and is now planning to further expand its operations overseas.
“Plastic packaging is a huge problem in the US, and a large contributor to the 80 million tons worth of waste being produced every year,” MacCartney said.
“With each mile of road laid using our MacRebur product, we use up the equivalent weight of 1,194,421 one-time use plastic bags - or put another way, one ton of MacRebur mix contains the equivalent of 80,000 plastic bottles. The US has around 4,071,000 miles of roads, so as we see it, MacRebur products could be the single biggest solution to the US plastics problem.”
MacRebur has one factory up and running in San Diego, California. The company is now looking to expand into Florida, with plans to put in place further manufacturing licensing agreements (MLAs) to expand its reach.