Plastic has been an integral part of our culture since its inception in 1907. Its low cost and longevity have made it an important part of many of the technological achievements of our technological community over the past century.
However, as you may know, plastic has now grown into a major problem that poses a serious threat to our ecosystem. The amount of garbage generated by single-use plastics strangles our animals, damages our health, and destroys our planet, from the waves of plastic garbage flowing into the beaches to the plastic islands floating in our ocean.
Scientists, engineers, activists, and policymakers from around the world are working to find ways to reduce, if not eliminate, the amount of plastic that ends up in the landfill and keeps it in our natural environment. Another factory in the United Kingdom has come up with a way to achieve this while at the same time repairing our roads.
Inspiration in India
MacRebur, a UK-based company, has found a way to produce sturdy, durable roads by recycling old plastic water bottles, plastic bags, and other once-used plastic products.
Tony McCartney, CEO of the company, had an idea while working in Southern India. He was there on behalf of the charity helping people with the task of collecting recyclable materials from waste and selling them for reuse. He found that some plastic “harvesters” garbage was used to cover potholes in country roads. The process went like this:
Collected plastic is placed in a hole
Diesel is poured over plastic
The plastic is heated until it melts in the holes, making a temporary plastic hole filling machine.
Instead of building MacRebur with his two friends, Nick and Gordon, McCartney thought councils in the United Kingdom would not like the idea of burning plastic on the streets. The three of them spent the next few years deciding on the best way to dispose of plastic waste and integrate it into the construction of an improved tarred road. The factory now offers three disposable plastic additives for use with standard asphalt.
Making Roads With Plastic
So, how do you turn a discarded plastic water bottle into a roadblock? Of course, the first step is to collect the plastic waste that was intended for disposal. These plastics are then divided into groups based on the composition of the polymer (i.e. plastic bottles against plastic bags).
The business then divides the plastic into three types of pellets: MR6, MR8, and MR10, with each type varying in durability and intended use. Because of its flexibility, the MR6 is especially suitable for slow-moving and heavy-duty vehicles, such as pedestrians and the surrounding area. The MR8 is recommended in parking lots, driveways, and local roads, while the MR10 is recommended on highways where cracking resistance is important. After that, the pellets are melted into bitumen. Bitumen is a thick, dark residue that forms after the refining of petroleum and acts as an adhesive that holds the tar together. The pellets, according to McCartney, could be assembled seamlessly into any existing asphalt infrastructure.
What About Microplastic?
The big problem with plastic roads is that microplastics will leak into our area when it rains, but McCartney is sure this will not happen. This is because plastic tablets are well integrated with ordinary asphalt, resulting in something that does not have real plastic.
According to a series of frequently asked questions at the company, “it is important that all of our polymers are fully integrated into the mix.” “As a result, there are no plastics on the final asphalt – only bitumen prepared with polymer. So there are no microplastics in the final asphalt mix, and no plastics can come out. ”
Solving Two Problems Once
“We like to fix two world problems. On the one hand, we have a plastic garbage can, and on the other hand, we have poor road quality that we have to go through today, ”McCartney added.
The business claims that its roads are 60 percent more efficient and can last up to three times the standard roads, and that each ton of asphalt carries about 20,000 water bottles or 70,000 plastic bags. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that there are four million miles [4 million km] of road in need of repair in the United States. The amount of plastic stored in landfills if those roads are replaced with MacRebur asphalt can be huge.
MacRebur Global Support
The MacRebur Plastic Roads Company has now supplied road pellets in the Gulf, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand . The first plastic road in the United States was created at the University of California, San Diego, in 2018. After UC San Diego Construction Commodity Manager Gary Oshima spoke to him about a possible partnership, MacRebur donated pellets to the project. The company is very happy to work with the school, which has the same goals, according to McCartney.
“Building more recycled plastic applications will be a serious challenge that we must all overcome, and maintaining more than four million miles of roads in the United States will be a growing problem,” said Oshima of UC San Diego. In addition to reusing unwanted plastics that may end up in landfills or at sea, [these technologies] reduce the use of fossil fuels and harmful gases throughout the production process, helping to protect the environment. ”
Many Companies Make Changes
Other firms are experimenting with similar technologies, and these new plastic roads appear to be quite effective. Shisalanga Construction has become the first business in South Africa to build a plastic road. The company has already covered more than 400 feet [400 m] of road, preventing about 40,000 plastic milk bottles from entering the dumps.