Company Uses Plastic Bottles and Bags To Build Roads That Last 10 Times Longer Than Asphalt

Company repurposes plastic bound for landfill to repair roads.

It’s estimated the ocean will contain more plastic than fish by 2050. Landfills are now overflowing with plastic waste since China refused to continue recycling it for us last year.

How can humans save ourselves from drowning in a sea of plastic? Scottish engineer Toby McCartney has one idea… Use plastic instead of petroleum for building roads:

His start-up plastic road company MacRebur adds waste plastics into an asphalt mix to create a “stronger, longer-lasting, pothole-free road.” He says his company’s roads costs less to make than conventional roads.

It was something McCartney’s daughter said at school that first inspired him. The teacher asked the kids “what lives in our oceans?”

“Plastics,” his daughter answered.

“I don’t want my little girl growing up in a world where this is the case,” he said.

McCartney remembered something he’d seen in India. Locals would fix potholes by dumping plastic waste into them, and then melt it with fire until they were filled in.

He decided to develop his own industrial method of this.

Normally roads are made of 90 percent rocks, limestone and sand, and 10 percent petroleum to bind the mixture.

The plastic waste is made into pellets that replace almost all of the petroleum used in conventional road building.

Most of the plastic waste the company uses is not conventionally recyclable and would’ve ended up in a landfill.

The British town of Cumbria was the first to try out McCartney’s service, using local waste to repair local roads. The project spared landfills and oceans of half a million plastic bottles and almost a million plastic bags.

Of course, the goal is to use less plastic in the first place, but imagine if we could use this technology to clean up the mess we’ve already made.

RELATED: 10 Easy Ways to Use Less Plastic





18 responses to “Company Uses Plastic Bottles and Bags To Build Roads That Last 10 Times Longer Than Asphalt”

  1. L. Autio Avatar
    L. Autio

    Mixed feelings. It is great that the need for new fossil material goes down….. But. When the road gets worn, there will be small loose plastic particles, that will be flushed away with the rain water, and somewhere along the way, they will most likely end up in lakes, or the sea… So, I’m not really sure this is a very great idea after all.

    1. Laura Avatar

      The plastic is already there. This isn’t creating new waste, it is repurposing the old.

      1. Richard Stewart Avatar
        Richard Stewart

        But as Autio said, as the plastic gets worn away by traffic, snowploughs, etc., tiny fragments will end up washing into streams and into the ocean, to be consumed by ocean life. This is the opposite of a solution.
        We all agree that it would be better to leave the oil in the ground. But we didn’t leave it there, we pulled it up and made plastic out of some of it, and some of that plastic will not break down for 1000 years. Our job now is to make sure those plastics are handled in a way that minimizes their impact on the environment. So, yes, recycling. But road pavement is a consumable product — it wears away, and the fragments wash into the storm drains which lead to the ocean.

        1. dan Avatar

          I doubt this is made from ‘tiny fragments’ of plastic. It’s likely made from a liquid product resulting from the pyrolysis of plastic. Pelletizing the plastic is a necessary prior step in most industrial pyrolysis systems. It would be no longer recognizable as plastic, but more like a raw crude oil after this process. This crude can be further processed into diesel, or used as a substitute for asphalt tar.

  2. William Jordaan Avatar
    William Jordaan

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    REGARDS Willie Jordaan.

  3. William Jordaan Avatar

    Because of circumstances out of out control I could not get a jop in S. A as I am a white person. I will be an asset to any farming activity given the change. Even service and maintain tractors planters basically any mechanical breakdown. Also milking of cows and there general well being. My contact, mobile no is 27 799222872

  4. K RAMANI Avatar

    It’s Very good idea to use recyclable plastic in to reuse, more advertising is reguired to bring awareness in the people and also it is better to reduce the usage of plastic at initial level like prevention is better than cure . Thank you

  5. SGM97B Avatar

    Use glass containers. Glass is infinitely recyclable.

    1. Linda Avatar

      Glass containers were used and reused years ago. Then it was said plastic is better. Now we do need to go back to glass. Could have avoided this circle if there was some forethought to the use of plastics.

  6. Elena Avatar

    Will they be doing a study about the safety of water running over these plastics? It’s an intriguing idea, I just have some concerns

  7. Bruce Jackson Avatar
    Bruce Jackson

    He’ll “never tell anyone what is our mix”.

    It just goes to prove what his priority is business profit. It’s not about solving the problem of the plastic waste in oceans.

    Sharing solutions to environmental problems would be a more helpful attitude.

  8. Tagy Avatar

    Ideally the thought would be to recycle it back into it self. I’m curious as to how ell it holds and how long it lasts. Time will tell.

  9. Nathan Avatar

    Y’all need to get your priorities straight. You want to critisize the plastic in the roads and knock it down. But I’ll tell you what, fuck the trees, fuck the plants, fuck the dirt we walk on. Save the damn oceans, that’s 70% of our air, we lose that and we are beyond fucked. Recycled Plastic roads? Sounds good. Whatever cleans up the primary source of our survival.

    1. Hector Avatar

      Start with cleaning out your vulgar mouth. That would help us all.

      1. Laura Avatar

        , your sensitivities are the important thing…

  10. Michelle Avatar

    I am curious to know how is traction on these plastic infused roads during inclement weather?

  11. Merrily Avatar

    The recycled tire road caught on fire and burned for years. Has this one been tested for flammablity ?

  12. Jo Avatar

    Asinine. Plastics break down very fast in the sun. Then there will be microplastics in the air and in the water, going into the drains and then to sea.