An Engineer Managed to Create Plastic Roads

April 26th, 2017

By Eric Frisch, 10x Management Contributor

We’re not in Kansas anymore. Actually we’re in Lockerbie, Scotland. That’s where a brilliant engineer named Toby McCartney is using plastic waste to build better roads. McCartney was inspired to pursue the idea when he was told a story by his daughter from school. The teacher asked the students in the class to name the things that live in the ocean. McCartney’s daughter raised her hand, and said, “plastics.” Upon hearing this, McCartney knew he did not want his daughter to grow up in a world where plastics and the ocean go hand in hand. So he developed an industrial method to mix plastic waste into asphalt to build roads that last longer and are more durable than traditional asphalt.

McCartney’s solution replaces most of the bitumen found in road materials today. Bitumen is a substance extracted from oil that acts as a binding agent for rocks and pebbles on most streets. Instead of using bitumen to hold the roads together, McCartney’s startup, MacRebur, is using small plastic pellets from waste that is destined for landfills. That’s a double bonus for the environment: less oil, and less plastics in our landfills. It also helps that the roads are stronger and less susceptible to potholes. What’s more? The process that MacRebur uses to manufacture the asphalt is the exact same that current asphalt plants use. So there’s no need for new equipment, ensuring a completely seamless transition!

So far, two British councils have approved of using the new asphalt. We’re hoping many more will follow. MacRebur won the Virgin Media Business Voom Start-Up Award in 2016, beating out 9,000 other companies, bringing the company a high profile and great prospects moving forward. We’re always on the lookout at 10x Management for amazing and inspiring ways that people are using technology to better the world. The future looks bright for MacRebur and for roads. Just remember, the next time someone asks you which way to Oz, reply, “Follow the Plastic Brick Road!”

If you like this article, you might enjoy reading Why Getting A Head Start on Automation Is Necessary