Plastic Road Lasts Ten Times Longer Says Inventor
Scottish engineer Toby McCartney had an epiphany one day when his daughter’s teacher asked what grows in the ocean. “Plastics!” she replied. McCartney had spent time in India and seen how roads in that country were repaired by putting waste plastic into potholes and burning it. He took that idea and invented the plastic road.
Together with friends Nick Burnett and Gordon Reid, he started a new company called MacRebur that uses 100% recycled plastic as a substitute for the bitumen normally used to pave roads. Ordinarily, asphalt roads are about 90% rock, sand, and limestone mixed with 10 percent bitumen.
MacRebur takes waste plastic, farm waste, and commercial waste and turns it into pellets called MR6. Those pellets replace most of the bitumen when the new plasticized asphalt is made. McCartney says the process results in a plastic road that is 60% stronger and last up to 10 times longer than a normal asphalt road.
McCartney’s driveway was the first time the plastic asphalt was used. Now, his local county of Cumbria is using MacRebur asphalt to pave new roads in the area.
While Elon Musk is changing the world of automobiles, Toby McCartney is changing the roads those vehicles will drive on. Not only does his process keep plastics out of the ocean and lower the amount of petroleum needed to make roads, it can save communities millions of dollars by making roads that need to be repaired or replaced less often.
A plastic road is also being tested in Vancouver, which has embarked on a campaign to become the greenest city in the world by 2020. GreenMantra, a Canadian company based in Toronto, has developed a process that uses a mixture of recycled plastic to make a binder to hold the mixture of rock and sand in asphalt together.
The plastics do not need to be heated as much in order to flow properly during the paving process. Lower temperatures mean less fuel is needed to heat the mixture. Less fuel burned means fewer emissions released into the atmosphere during the road-building process.
The scourge of plastic waste is a major environmental concern. MacRebur and GreenMantra are looking at the problem with fresh eyes and seeing a way to keep some of that trash out of landfills and oceans and turn it into new business opportunities instead.