There is a world plastic waste problem. These non-biodegradable wastes are accumulating worldwide in our landfills, waterways, oceans and even as litter in our communities. This puts pressure on governments and businesses to continually rethink new ways to dispose of plastic waste products in an environmentally sustainable manner or put them to good re-use.
MacRebur, a UK based technology company, is pushing the frontiers of recycled plastic wastes – they are using plastics to produce improved road construction materials. They describe themselves as a company that holds the UK and European patent on the method and recipe of mixing waste plastics such as bottles, bags, cups, etc with bitumen to produce a new type of asphalt road material. Their first product is the Plasmac – MacRebur reported that accredited testing proved that its Plasmac road material recipe increase tensile strength by 60%, reduced potholes, reduced rutting, and increased the lifespan of the road. They are positive this will revolutionize the world’s roads.
MR6 is MacRebur’s patented asphalt binder additive – it is a mix of carefully selected polymers, designed to improve the strength and durability of the asphalt whilst reducing the quantity of bitumen required in the mix. It is made from recycled plastic waste and can be used in the making of hot and warm mix asphalts.
The asphalt manufacturing companies are the target clients. The MR6 is produced in pellet form so it is easy to administer and mix into asphalt. This pelletized MR6 can be added into every ton of asphalt produced as there are no plant design modifications required by the client since the pellets are mixed into the plant at the same time as the aggregate and bitumen. The potential market is huge as worldwide, the asphalt market produces 1.6 trillion tons of asphalt and this is projected to keep growing.
- Stronger Roads Standard bitumen has been modified over the years to achieve improvement in several properties. With MR6 MacRebur believes they have taken things a step further to provide a product which brings asphalt into the 21st century. Some of the structural benefits of modifying asphalt with MR6 include – increase in tensile strength, improved rheology, increased asphalts resistance to character deformation, rutting, cracking and fatigue failures.
- Greener Roads MR6 could also make a huge contribution in resolving the pressure for sustainable plastic waste disposal. Plastics wastes which would otherwise be moving to the incinerators or landfill sites would then be channeled as raw material for production. As MR6 enhanced roads last longer, this would also result in lowering the environmental impact of maintenance.
- Cheaper Roads Furthermore, MR6 is a cost effective way of polymer modifying asphalt to increase its strength, durability and ultimately its lifespan. This is crucial as public expenditure and infrastructure budgets are constantly pressured to getting more for less.
MacRebur is part of a growing handful of revolutionary attempts at road technology innovations. Beyond roads, they also have their eyes set on developing many other ideas and applications for the use of their waste plastic magic mix. In time, the efficacy of these technologies will have to be proven for enduring reputation. Improvements and more innovations may eventually lead to widespread applications and adoption around the world. Some other road technology innovators we noted include:
SolaRoad – Is the world’s first bike path made from solar panels, and is a prototype project testing the feasibility of various proposal for smart highways. Designed by a consortium of organizations, in the Netherlands, it opened in October 2014. The road surface consists of prefabricated panels with a surface of hardened glass. Beneath the glass, solar cells are installed – this energy is to find various applucations like lighting of the road, traffic lights and road signs.
VolkerWessels Plastic Roads – VolkerWessel a major European construction services business promoted the PlasticRoad. It is a road made of recycled plastic. It is prefabricated and features a hollow space that can be used for various purposes. This includes water storage, transit of cables and pipes, heating roads, generating energy etc. The PlasticRoad elements allow for circular reuse.
JUSCO – A TATA steel company in India has also delivered a road built with plastic waste. Using bitumen technology, JUSCO constructed roads in the steel city with an environmentally friendly footprint using waste plastic, including biscuit packets, poly bags, etc.