Future roads may be built using discarded plastic to cut down on the use of petroleum and divert waste from landfills.

By Brad Stager

The road to the future in Hillsborough County may be paved with plastic debris. A company has developed a process for turning plastic waste into material that can replace a portion of the petroleum product bitumen that is used in asphalt pavement for roads. Bitumen is the black, viscous and sticky liquid that binds materials like rock and sand together in asphalt pavement.

MacRebur Ltd. is the Lockerbie, Scotland-based company that developed the process for turning household and commercial plastic waste into roads. The company’s CEO, Toby McCartney, recently promoted the idea of paving with plastic in Hillsborough County during an online presentation hosted by the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce.

He said MacRebur’s process exploits what plastic and bitumen have in common, as “Bitumen comes from the same oil as plastic.”

McCartney added that MacRebur’s plastic roads are more stable than roadways and do not release microplastics into the environment like some asphalt that incorporates ground tire rubber.

“We’re greener, we’re environmentally friendly,” he said.

MacRebur’s plastic roads are in use in locations throughout the world, especially as private roads and parking lots due to the way most governments manage and regulate road construction. MacRebur’s plastic pavement has even been used for auto racing tracks and airport runways.

MacRebur has built one road made of plastic waste in the United States, located at the University of California San Diego, and wants to build more, especially in Florida. The presentation to members of the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce is part of MacRebur’s ground-level approach to generating support for plastic roads.

“We go to the people driving on the roads,” said McCartney, who added that the plastic roads last longer with less cracking and rutting than those made with conventional asphalt.

Increased longevity of plastic roads is a point worth considering, said chamber member George May, who participated in the online presentation.

“I’m very impressed by this product. If we can get to the point where our roads last five times longer, that would be huge for our county budget,” he said.

You can learn more about MacRebur’s plastic roads by visiting macrebur.com.

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