Episode 21 – Building Roads With Plastic Waste – Toby McCartney, MacRebur

We’ve covered the waste plastic problem in previous episodes, it’s not suprising it’s a big issue and its everywhere and we need solutions for the time being because it doesn’t look like any real bans are coming any time soon.

Without meaning to get too political, plastic bag bans and plastic straw bans are simply token gestures aimed to quieten down the critics, and supermarkets still seem to be putting the emphasis of plastic reduction onto the consumer even though it is they that continue to wrap stuff in it.

So we continue to dump the equivalent of a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every day.

With an end to single use plastics not looking like it is on the horizon, innovative startup companies are starting to think how they can utilise the material in a circular economy way, locking it away in a different product so it doesn’t get into the sea. There’s no denying plastic has a lot of useful properties, it’s strong, it lasts forever, that’s why it is everywhere and why it never disappears.

And it’s one of those companies I bring to you today. I speak to Toby McCartney from Scottish based company MacRebur who have found a way to take single use plastics that are destined for incineration or landfill (or more than likely the ocean) and use it to make roads. As Toby will explain it isn’t a full plastic road, they use it in the mix with traditional materials, but it makes better more durable roads that need less repairs and most importantly locks the plastic away.

To be honest a solution that means less potholes probably resonates with more people than saving the planet but that’s another point…..

And yes, continuing to use single-use plastics at the rate we do and building miles and miles of new roads isn’t really getting to the heart of our environmental problems, we must continue to reduce these impactful habits at the same time. But we need solutions like this from MacRebur in the meantime to limit the damage that we are causing, I like to think of them as ‘temporary circular solutions’ but in reality we have a long long way to go.

I have also noticed that there seems to be a growing movement against ‘all plastic at all costs’ however we mustn’t forget that it is the single-use plastics that are the bigger issue and if you buy something that is made from plastic that lasts a long time and can be recycled at the end, then chances are the environmental impact much lower.

Plastic is a big environmental problem and one that politicians find it harder to argue with than climate change for example, but we must continue to pursue solutions to all environmental problems and not get too excited when we don’t see a plastic straw in a bar…..

For more information on MacRebur head to:https://www.macrebur.com/

A link to one of Toby’s awesome Ted talks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLbpacZJdx0



Rob Wreglesworth

Rob is the head writer at Innovate Eco sharing knowledge and passion cultivated over 10 years working in the Environmental Sector. He is on a mission to build a community of people that are passionate about solving environmental problems.

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