Plastic road firm opens new factory in Lockerbie

A company that uses plastic waste in road construction has just opened a new factory in Lockerbie; the first of its kind in Scotland.

Plastic recycling firm MacRebur’s new factory takes used plastic waste from landfill and turns it into small pellets which can then be used to create road surfaces; a potential milestone in road production and waste recycling in the UK.

MacReburs roads being laid (Credit: Clay10)

Though the true mix for making these plastic surfaces is a well-hidden secret, the pellets replace a percentage of the bitumen used to bind roads, which helps to form a harder and more durable road surface. This could make the roads up to 40% stronger, and greatly lowers the chance of potholes appearing.

The company has already laid roads all around the world, including several sites in Scotland and England. They also have them located in New Zealand and Australia, with several roads being trialled in Bahrain, the United States and Slovakia.

“This could make the roads up to 40% stronger, and greatly lowers the chance of potholes appearing.”

One of the positives of the plastic roads is that they can be laid anywhere that asphalt is laid, as it uses the same process as regular asphalt.

MacRebur says that each kilometre of road laid uses the equivalent weight of 684,000 bottles or 1.8 million one time use plastic bags. 1 tonne of the mix also contains the equivalent of 80,000 plastic bottles.

The founders of MacRebur; Toby, Nick and Gordon (Credit: Clay 10)


What do these roads do right?

It is clear that this process could potentially revolutionise the way that we deal with our plastic waste, and with the strength of our roads. MacRebur says that the roads “have been extensively tested and monitored for the over the last three years”, which shows that this isn’t some fairytale; they already have the plans in place.

The CEO of the company, Toby McCartney, says he got his idea on a trip to India, where locals collected plastic waste from landfill, placed it into potholes in the road, and used fuel to melt it in place. On his return, and seeing the state of roads in the UK, he decided to take action. If the plan works, the fate of British roads could be altered forever.

The roads have several benefits:

  • The mix strengthens the road, making it last longer and removing those pesky potholes.
  • The material can also be used in other ways, such as pavements.
  • It is cheaper than the conventional bitumen mix.
  • They are better for the environment.
  • They are stronger than regular roads.
  • The maintenance cost of these roads is almost nil.

The location of MacRebur’s factory in Dumfries and Galloway is also important for Scotland, as it can now be the poster boy for the plastic road industry.

MacRebur’s factory is located in Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway (Credit: Clay10)

The Future 

There are some that aren’t quite convinced yet. The main concern with these roads are the long-term implications. With little knowledge about what would happen to them in the long term, at this stage it is hard to say whether they have the lifespan that we are told. Regardless of how much testing you do over three years, you cannot test for weather and car damage over time. The main reason our roads get so damaged is because of over-use and the great British weather.

“The main concern with these roads are the long-term implications. With little knowledge about what would happen to them in the long term, at this stage it is hard to say whether they have the lifespan that we are told.”

Another possible side effect of the roads is the re-use of plastic. There are some that say all we are doing is taking plastic and turning it into another type of plastic, which doesn’t entirely solve the issue of the planet having an influx of plastic in its waters and in a landfill.

Again, India has been trialling plastic roads for many years, and many have been placed around the country. The process is much the same:

(Credit: Interesting Engineering)

In terms of whether it will be coming to Edinburgh, the future hasn’t been decided. Transport and Licencing Media Officer at Edinburgh Council, Rebecca Gordon, said that “Edinburgh isn’t currently trialling this”, but did go on to say that “we are aware that some other local authorities are, and will take note of the outcome of any trials”. She didn’t specify what other councils were carrying out the trials.

MacRebur’s factory has created 12 new jobs, and they are hoping to expand into other area of Europe in the future, a sign that plastic road building is here to stay for the foreseeable.

If you want to hear more about MacRebur’s work, and about the process of plastic road building, we interviewed the company’s Chief Administrative Officer, Nick Burnett.

Have a listen here:



This week in Brexit news

David Paul gives us a quick look at some of the big Brexit news this week:

Positivity and religion


Miriam Hussain

A story of a Scottish-Pakistani girl changing the status quo in Edinburgh.

With more and more people from different backgrounds moving to Edinburgh, the influx of new cultures and nationalities is changing the demographics of Scotland. This can be a hard pill to swallow for some, and integration can be even harder for others. Some people are trying to change that; Miriam Hussain is one of those people.

Miriam’s parents both came to Scotland when they were young in pursuit of better work and have since forged a good life for their family, but she says she still feels a close link to her heritage: “I’m Scottish-Pakistani. Born and raised in Fife by Pakistani born parents. Saying ‘Scottish’ doesn’t cover it. I feel just as much Pakistani as I do a Scottish lass.” Growing up in Scotland has given her a Scottish accent, a Scottish sense of humour, a Scottish lifestyle – if you were to close your eyes and talk to Miriam, you would be none the wiser that she is Scottish-Pakistani.

Both of these factors contributed to making Miriam very loud and proud about women’s rights, social issues and religion. She confesses she isn’t quiet, retiring or timid, even when some people expect her to be.

In the final year of her English Degree, Miriam has a positive message to spread, and she wants as many people to feel accepted by her as she can.

“In my experience, Edinburgh is a city where you definitely have to create your own space, which is something I’m doing at Edinburgh Napier”, she says.
“I am the founder and president of Napier’s first Southern Asian Social Society. I didn’t want to feel like ‘the only’ Asian, so I created a space for us to get together and socialise and create our own authentic narrative, our own student community.” She might have created a space for other Southern Asians, but she’s also become a middle-man of sorts between Southern Asians and people of other backgrounds. Miriam feels strongly about answering any questions that you might have and tries to debunk myths people may have of her culture, to avoid ignorance being manifested within her group of friends and family.

A phrase I’ve heard a lot is ‘You’re not like other Asians’ – as if it’s a compliment to compare me to their distorted view on Asian women?

There’s also the assumption that when I tell people I study English, their first instinct is that I’m learning to speak English, rather than studying English literature. It amazes me how casually I’ve experienced it. It’s really scary, just how integrated it is within us all.”

Instead of scaring Miriam off, these prejudices have encouraged Mirian to make a positive change. She spends a lot of her time highlighting indirect racism and misconceptions on a daily basis, and leaves in her wake a trail of enlightened and more supportive people. When she’s not changing the world for the better, one ignorant person at a time, she’s always got a good Halal restaurant recommendation – “Cheap and Cheerful – Spicy Bite” at Fountain Park. It’s owned by a great family, who really took care of me during my first year! And if you really want to treat yourself, head to Dishoom. When I graduate, you’ll find me there.”

EN4 Morning News Brief

Good morning. This is the EN4 news brief for Tuesday the second of October.

Here are this morning’s top stories.

  • The Scottish Tories plan to beat back Boris
    The Conservative Party Conference enters its third day today and the big news is likely to be Boris Johnson’s speech to the conference fringe. The former Foreign Secretary has made it rather plain that he plans to target Prime Minister Theresa May and her Brexit strategy with his speech (which was trailed with this picture of him running through a field of wheat). The Herald reports that Scottish Conservative ministers plan to rally around their leader Ruth Davidson, who is seen as perhaps the only challenger to a Johnson leadership bid.Also speaking at the conference today will be Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Justice Secretary David Gauke.
  • A date has been set for Alex Salmond’s legal challenge
    The former First Minister’s lawsuit against the Scottish Government for the handling of the sexual misconduct investigation against him has been given a date: the 15th of January 2019. The four-day hearing will take place in the Court of Sessions in Edinburgh. Read more on the BBC.
  • House of Fraser new owner sacks senior staff
    Mike Ashley, the businessman who recently acquired House of Fraser for £58million has abruptly sacked the director and the senior management staff of the department store chain. This is the latest development in the ongoing issues surrounding the company, which has included the planned closure of 31 shops, including the one on Edinburgh’s West End, due to close in November.
  • Nicola Sturgeon announces a nation-wide consultation on the tourist tax
    The First Minister used her speech this morning at the Scottish Tourism Alliance autumn conference to show a compromise to the local councils around the country who have been pushing for the power to introduce a ‘tourist tax’, Holyrood Magazine reports.

In Tech: 

Facebook’s Hack story still unfolding…
It’s come to light that the massive hack that affected over 50 million Facebook users may also have lead to data being taken from third-party websites- perhaps anywhere else that users have logged in to using their Facebook accounts. There’s talk of a class-action lawsuit in the US and a GDPR fine in Europe, and we don’t even know the full extent of the hack yet.


Meanwhile in Edinburgh

What’s happening in the council today?

Edinburgh Council are discussing the Tourist Tax issue today as well. The council has been especially keen on the idea, despite not technically having the power to introduce such a tax, mainly as part of their push to make up a budget for the upcoming year. Keep an eye out for our local government reporter Liam MacKay’s coverage of the council’s budget woes this afternoon.

What’s happening in Holyrood?

Holyrood is hosting some events throughout the day today to highlight issues relating to old people. In there morning there’s an event sponsored by Miles Briggs MSP to mark Hospice Care week, and in the evening there’s an event to mark 75 years of Age UK.

This afternoon, our Holyrood correspondent Emer Harrison will be asking MSPs what challenges old people face and what the government can do to help.

Full calendar of Holyrood events.

The Weather

The Met Office are predicting 12°C and sunny for most of the day.

Thanks and make sure to visit for all the latest news and culture.


Have a great day!

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