And finally… Scottish plastic road firm opens first factory

A Scottish firm that has pioneered technology using plastic waste to surface roads has opened its first factory in Dumfries and Galloway today.

The MacRebur plant in Lockerbie will granulate rubbish which would otherwise have gone to landfill to help produce asphalt.

The roads produced by MacRebur, which has raised millions through multiple funding rounds via platform Seedr, have already been laid around the world from Australia to Yorkshire using plastic waste processed by waste companies.

The new factory, which has created 12 jobs, brings the processing in-house with the hope of building further factories across Europe.

A one-kilometre stretch of road made with its mix would use the equivalent of about 684,000 plastic bottles or 1.8m single-use plastic bags.

Chief executive Toby McCartney said the opening of its first factory was an “important milestone”.

The idea was born when Mr McCartney was working in Southern India helping people who work on landfill sites as ‘pickers’. Their job is to gather potentially reusable items and sell them on to be turned from rubbish into something useful again.

He said it would help to tackle both plastic waste and potholed roads.

The granules are mixed with an activator to make the plastic bind and it is then bagged ready to be distributed to asphalt producers.

The company said its mix allowed the bitumen used in the production of asphalt to be extended and enhanced, reducing the amount of fossil fuel used.

Mr McCartney said: “Our technology means that we can not only help solve the problem of plastic waste but also produce roads that cope better with changes in the weather, reducing cracks and potholes.

“That’s because our roads are more flexible thanks to the properties of the plastic used in them, so although a MacRebur road looks the same as any other, it has improved strength and durability.

“Our technology also means there are no plastic micro beads present in the mix and we can even recycle the road at the end of its lifespan, creating a circular economy that is sustainable and cost effective.”

Mr McCartney added: “Our ultimate aim is for local rubbish to be used in local roads and MacRebur factories will help us achieve this by allowing waste plastic to be processed and mixed with our additive for use in asphalt.”