British manufacturer MacRebur has already helped paved thousands of miles of roads in the U.K. with asphalt that contains waste plastic, says CEO Toby McCartney. The company is setting up shop in Florida and has its eye on millions of tons of wasted plastic in the United States.
The company says its process of turning waste plastic into an asphalt additive can help keep plastic out of landfills and incinerators and create stronger streets, all at reduced costs.
“It’s the end of the road for waste plastics,” MacRebur proclaims on its website.
McCartney says each mile of road laid with his company’s product is equal in weight to almost 1.2 million single-use plastic bags or 80,000 plastic bottles. And for every one-mile, two-lane road, there’s a carbon emission offset of about 33 tons, or the equivalent of 2.3 million of those plastic bags. MacRebur also reduces asphalt manufacturing costs, saving about $100,000 for every 100,000 tons of asphalt products.
With more than 4 million miles of roads in the U.S. (and a huge backlog of repairs), using the company’s process could be “the single biggest solution to the U.S. plastics problem,” according to the CEO.
MacRebur plans to open its first factory soon and work with national construction businesses, asphalt manufacturers, bitumen producers and pre-blenders.
“We are currently in the process of finalizing the exact location of our factory within the state of Florida,” McCartney says. “The exact location will be announced as soon as this has been confirmed. The investment being made is approximately $1 million, and the factory will take on up to 15 members of staff once up and running–with potential to expand in the near future.”
Those expansions could include locations in Texas and Maryland.
MacRebur started in 2016 after McCartney saw people in India using a crude method of waste plastic, diesel fuel and fire to fill potholes.
He improved upon that idea (to say the least) and MacRebur products are now used as binder extenders and modifiers to reduce the volume of bitumen required in an asphalt mix. The company won a 2019/2020 European Business Award for social responsibility and environmental awareness.
“From the world-renowned Gleneagles Hotel to the Olympic Park in London, thousands of miles of roads have now been installed across the U.K. (with MacRebur products), using waste plastic additives and hundreds of tons of asphalt,” the CEO says.
“Most work comes from the private market–like parking lots and forecourts–though we are working with the Department for Transport to trial and use our product on public highways.”
As for near-future plans for plastic-enhanced roads in America:
“We have asphalt going down across the U.S.,” McCartney says. “Most of the work is for private roads and parking lots, but we are working with (Departments of Transportation) across the country to secure contracts with public roads.”