We’ve seen the birth of futuristic solar roads and even a return to retro gravel roads, but now there’s a new player on the street: recycled plastic. British engineer Toby McCartney has devised an innovative process to replace much of the crude oil-based asphalt in pavement with tiny pellets of plastic created from recyclable bottles. The result is a street that’s 60 percent stronger than traditional roadways, 10 times longer-lasting, and a heck of a lot better for the environment, claims McCartney’s company MacRebur.
McCartney first conceived of the idea after getting fed up with the potholes in the roads near his house and remembering how he’d seen people fill potholes in India by filling them with plastic trash and melting it into place. Typical roads are made of about 90 percent rock and sand with 10 percent bitumen. MacRebur’s product essentially bulks up the bitumen with recycled waste plastic, so the roads are stronger and less of the oil product is required to bind together rocks.
McCartney paved his own driveway using the plastics-augmented process, and the English county of Cumbria has already adopted it for new public roadways.