Recycled plastic is now being used to pave roads and highways! Yes, this is now a thing due to the innovation of the Scottish firm, MacRebur. The firm invented the new product using plastic waste; plastic bags and bottles ground up along with other hard-to-recycle plastic. The flakes are mixed at their plant with their proprietary “secret ingredient”. After the plastic is retooled, it is bagged up and shipped to road construction manufacturers. The outcome is a durable, environmentally friendly product that looks exactly like the oil based bitumen that is typically used to hold asphalt together.
So far the company has paved highways in England and in San Diego and plan to open another plant. According to a MacRubur’s spokesperson, “with every ton of bitumen we replace, we save a ton of carbon emissions”. So, in regards to the environment, its definitely the way forward. Environmentalists are cautiously optimistic since it’s not clear how much micro-plastics these roads might shed. For instance, during the road laying process, the presence of chlorine could release noxious HCL gas and after the road is laid, it might leach after the first rain.
Other countries are producing and using plastics to make roads. South Africa uses plastic bottles in road construction and repair. TechniSoil Industrial, a company out of northern California, has devised a process that integrates recycled plastic into road as well. The President of the company says, “the polymer-infused roads are sturdier, flatter, safer and more durable than those made with regular asphalt”.
For now, the use of plastics waste to pave streets and highways might not totally curb the world’s plastic epidemic, but its a good start. The Polymers Technology Center is available to help companies with the development and production of polymers. We are located at 8900 Research Drive, Charlotte, NC 28262. To contact us, call (704) 602-4106 or Email us. We look forward to hearing from you.