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)

Analysis

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:

 

 

Midlothian council hope to acquire new parking powers

Midlothian Council are set to be awarded new parking powers in an attempt to prevent drivers from committing parking offences in the city.

This comes from the withdrawal of police enforcement in the county, and the introduction of decriminalised parking, which will change parking offences in the county from a criminal issue into a civil one, meaning the council will issue tickets to those who park their cars on double yellow lines.

Parking attendants will be put in place to monitor parking offences, in hopes to improve congestion through parking restrictions in certain areas and law enforcements such as yellow lines and time limited parking bays.

yellow lines

Parking on double yellow lines will still be an issue, but may soon be in the hands of the council. Image Credit: Google

Midlothian Council Conservative Councillor Pauline Winchester said;

“These changes mean that the roads that currently suffer with cars badly parked should get some reprieve once tickets start being given out.

“There are parking restrictions for a reason, and these are being ignored by a minority of people. The changes should help to make routes clearer for cars and crossing points safer for pedestrians.

“The council will introduce the changes and give affected area residents notice by initially putting dummy tickets on the offending vehicles.”

The decision of whether or not to grant the council these decriminalised parking powers currently lies with the Scottish Government, however it is expected that these will be approved within in the next couple of weeks.

 

 

 

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