When we first reported on MacRebur, the Scottish company that uses plastic waste to pave roads, we noted that its handiwork could be found around the world, “from Scotland to Australia and Dubai to South Africa.” A notable exception was the United States. That will change soon, as the company plans to open its first US facility in Florida. It also intends to sign manufacturing license agreements to expand its reach in the United States, reports the Herald daily in Scotland.
MacRebur blends specific plastics with an activator that binds the waste plastic, which is then sold to asphalt producers. They use it to “extend” the bitumen in the asphalt, thus reducing the amount of fossil fuel used, explains the company in its media guide. “We are turning the plastic into its original oil-based state and binding it to the stone [in the asphalt] with the help of our activator. It’s not a case of burying rubbish in our roads. In fact, at the end of their life, our roads can be recycled so the plastic waste is used over and over again,” said MacRebur.
Each mile of road that uses the MacRebur blend removes the equivalent weight of one million plastic bottles or 2.8 million single-use plastic bags from the environment, according to the company.
“We are currently in the process of finalizing the exact location of our factory within the state of Florida,” CEO Toby McCartney told Forbes in an article published yesterday. “The exact location will be announced as soon as this has been confirmed. The investment being made is approximately $1 million, and the factory will take on up to 15 members of staff once up and running — with potential to expand in the near future.” Those expansions could include locations in Texas and Maryland, writes Jeff Kart in Forbes.
The timing certainly looks good, as the technology checks a couple of big boxes in the Biden administration’s infrastructure proposal — bringing our roads back to first-world standards and promoting sustainability. Of course, that’s assuming the “build back better” plan comes to fruition. I harbor some doubts.
In any case, MacRebur’s technology is moving us in the right direction. “It’s the end of the road for waste plastics,” as the company likes to boast.
In this video of a Tedx Talk presentation, McCartney lays out his vision. He begins by drawing attention to the ubiquity of plastic in our lives. “If you ever wanted evidence that we’re in the middle of a plastic pandemic, just take a good look around you,” he tells the audience. “We love it though, don’t we?”
Check out the 12-minute video. In addition to being an innovator, he’s a rather effective public speaker.