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When the Global Good Awards launched “PointlessPlastics” we set out a campaign that aims to find solutions to our plastic problems, to accentuate the positives and the possibilities. That means using the hashtag to help raise awareness of pointless or easily replaceable uses of plastics. Identifying solutions that will improve material use. And highlighting the good work of those who are taking action, right now, to reduce the use of plastics: our #PointlessPlastics heroes.
This month we’re celebrating the innovative thinking behind a product which tackles, not one, but two global problems with one clever use of plastic waste: MacRebur have found a way to create pellets and flakes made from otherwise unusable plastic waste, which can replace the costly, low-wearing, and fossil-fuel-heavy, bitumen in our road surfaces.
The idea clearly impressed Richard Branson and the VOOM judging panel, who made MacRebur winners of the 2016 competition.
Here’s the lowdown on our #PointlessPlastics heroes: MacRebur
WHEN INSPIRATION STRIKES
The idea was born when Toby McCartney was working in Southern India with a charity, helping people working on landfill sites as ‘pickers’. Their job was to gather potentially reusable items and sell them on to be turned into something useful again; he saw that some of the waste plastics retrieved were put into potholes, petrol poured all over them, and then set alight until the plastics melted into the craters to form makeshift pothole fillers.
With his two friends, Nick Burnett and Gordon Reid, they formed MacRebur, and came up with an idea to take a mix of waste plastics, turn them into pellets, and add them into the mix of an enhanced asphalt road material. After 18 months of testing and trials, they had their first product, ‘MR6’: a patent pending, high performance, asphalt binder ingredient that can improve the roads we drive on today.
TACKLING TWO PROBLEMS AT ONCE
Plastics production is still increasing every year, yet over 40% is sent to landfill, with an estimated 5 trillion bits of plastic in our oceans.
Meanwhile, there are an estimated 40 million KM of roads in the world, made using hundreds of millions of barrels of oil.
MacRebur have created a simple, clever invention, which aims to solve these global problems in three ways:
● Use up millions of tons of waste plastic that sit in our landfill sites
● Reduce the millions spent on new roads, maintenance, and pothole repair
● Make our roads stronger and longer lasting
MacRebur’s products are made from 100% plastic waste materials, and their pellets and flakes can be used to replace much of the costly fossil fuel bitumen in the asphalt mix that is laid on all of our roads today.
The impact of plastic pollution is being felt throughout the world, and communities are calling out for innovative solutions to slow down the rate at which plastics are entering our rivers and seas; killing wildlife and damaging our environment.
MacRebur’s products present an excellent opportunity to reduce plastics going to landfill, and, more pressingly, into our oceans.
But don’t take our word for it. The numbers speak for themselves: with MacRebur’s products, every ton of asphalt uses between 3kg to 10kg of waste plastics. Their pellets are fully melted into the bitumen within the asphalt mix, which means no harmful microbeads can leach into our rivers and seas.
WHY MACREBUR? INDUSTRY
MacRebur’s customers are the asphalt manufacturing companies, of which there are 275 plants currently operating in the UK and nearly 5000 across Europe. Worldwide, the asphalt market produces 1.6 billion tons of asphalt annually.
When used, the huge increase in tensile strength of the product, and improved cohesion and adhesion, makes for increased resistance to cracking and fatigue failures on our roads, ultimately increasing their lifespan, making us safer for longer.
MacRebur products are produced in pellet and flake form so they’re really simple to administer and mix into asphalt; they’re mixed in at the same time as the aggregate and bitumen, so there are no modifications to asphalt plants required. Which we think makes a very strong argument for rolling this idea out, as soon as possible.
WHY MACREBUR? PLANET
MacRebur’s product is made with 100% recycled materials, but what makes them really stand out is the fact that they’re able to use all types of domestic, commercial and agricultural plastic waste – even the more difficult types of plastics we currently have no capacity to get rid of!
Not only this, but MacRebur’s products replace part of the bitumen in asphalt, giving a significant reduction in fossil fuel usage. All of which could potentially revolutionise the way we recycle globally.
As we know, plastic waste is THE environmental topic of the moment; with the recent huge rise in public awareness, it’s never been more pressing to tackle the issue; this innovative idea to make use of unwanted plastics destined for landfill, would do so in a way that helps to foster a circular economy, across industries.
In the UK alone 20 million tons of asphalt are produced annually – if MacRebur’s products were used in every ton, 60,000 tons of plastic could potentially be saved from landfill each year.
WHY MACREBUR? SAFER ROADS FOR EVERYONE
Here in the UK we live with dangerous driving and cycling conditions thanks to potholed roads, increasingly heavier volumes of traffic and cuts to public funding making road maintenance an ongoing challenge for our councils. There’s a huge need for affordable ways of making our roads stronger & longer lasting.
MacRebur’s products have the potential to increase the lifespan of our roads making them safer for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians alike. The reduction in cost compared to polymer modified bitumen could not only save councils money, but would also provide a more environmentally friendly alternative to the fossil fuel hungry mixes we use on our roads today.
If the product were to be rolled out UK-wide, local authorities could make huge savings, not only from reduced maintenance costs, but, over time, from a reduction in landfill tax. And the fact that there are no changes required to infrastructure in order to produce the product means there’s nothing stopping our councils from benefiting immediately.
In 2016 MacRebur launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £590,000 (via the platform Seedrs) for a global sales drive. That same year motions were lodged in the Scottish Parliament, congratulating them on their invention and success so far.
In November 2016: MacRebur’s pellets were used to resurface the runway at Carlisle City Airport and a large truck service station at Exelby Services.
In December 2016: council roads were laid with Cumbria County Council in Penrith and Carlisle, with trials agreed in Fife and Cambridgeshire.
They have a UK, Europe and Worldwide growth strategy in place: To date they’ve secured agreements with major, international asphalt producers Tarmac, Cemex and Aggregate Industries, along with national, independent asphalt producers; and have created a business model that allows them to scale up and roll out their innovative solution on all roads networks, airport runways, racetracks (and more) worldwide.
Looking to the future, MacRebur believe there are many other areas of construction that could incorporate their MR6 pellets, stretching the environmental, economic and infrastructure benefits beyond just surfacing our roads. Not only are we excited to see where they take this idea next, but also how it will impact our global approach to recycling and reuse in the fight against #PointlessPlastics….
Interesting in entering the Global Good Awards in 2019?
It’s not too early to register your interest in entering for 2019. Entries open on 1st December but if you’re registered with us, we can update you on categories, criteria and dates.
Anyone wishing to be part of the Global Good revolution and this unique awards programme can contact Founder, Karen Sutton: karen@GlobalGoodAwards.co.uk