Engineer Develops Sustainable Plastic Roads

Engineer Develops Sustainable Plastic Roads

Plastic roads may be the future of road paving.

Asphalt has been the road paving material of choice in America for well over a hundred years. However, a Scottish engineer named Toby McCartney has discovered what may become the future of road paving: plastic roads.

It All Starts with a Startup

Toby McCartney is the founder of a startup called MacReber that wants to replace disintegrating asphalt roads with roads made of waste plastic. Last year, MacReber came in 6th place at the Virgin Media Voom Competition against 9,000 other businesses vying for financial support. After that, MacReber competed in the pitchathon against 160 other companies and won! This was enough to boost the startup into becoming a successful business and put plastic roads in the spotlight.

So What’s the Big Idea about Plastic Roads?

MacReber’s big idea is to use recycled plastic as a binding agent in asphalt roads instead of bitumen, an oil product. This not only keeps plastic out of landfills and the ocean and lowers the demand for oil, it also creates durable, high performance roads. This idea could solve the problem of poor road quality, lower our dependence on fossil fuels, and help to mitigate the plastic waste epidemic.

Instead of bitumen, plastic pellets made from waste destined for the landfill are mixed in with the stones and a very small amount of bitumen. Switching to this process would actually require no new equipment for asphalt plants. So, making the switch to plastic roads is a very easy process, making it more likely that this idea will catch on. In fact, McCartney has already persuaded two English councils to start using their local waste plastics to make sustainable plastic roads!

We’ll keep our eyes open for progress on this great sustainable idea! For more details on this project, check out this video from the BBC.

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This entry was posted on Monday, May 1st, 2017 at 2:33 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.