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Plastic roads

British waste plastic road company and P.E.A. Award winner (Green Pioneer, 2017) MacRebur has worked with New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) to lay the first public roads in New York to be created using waste plastic.

The two roads, located on Rice Avenue and Royal Oak Road in Staten Island, form the first stages of a trial that sees otherwise unrecyclable plastics re-engineered into a new, high-quality, sustainable polymer and given a new lease of life within asphalt mix used in road construction.

The new eco-friendly surfaces have saved over 7,331kg of CO2e compared with traditional asphalt and diverted the equivalent weight of 214,534 single-use plastic bottles from landfill.

Measuring performance

Taking place over four days, MacRebur and NYC DOT have worked with asphalt producer City Asphalt to lay four different types of asphalt mix, using over 2,400 tonnes of asphalt.

While the first mix contains solely traditional asphalt, the remaining three each consist of asphalt mixed with a percentage of MacRebur’s waste plastic additive, which replaces part of the bitumen (fossil fuel) binder.

The trial sections will now be tested and monitored to measure performance against traditional asphalt by Dr Thomas Bennert at Rutgers University – one of the leading US universities in asphalt research and testing, with results expected before the end of the year.

‘Having worked with the team at NYC DOT for just over a year, it’s refreshing to see such enthusiasm about new technology and products for use in asphalt.
 
‘Whilst trials sections such as these typically taking up to three years from start to finish, we have worked together to begin trials within just four months – with a long-term goal of utilising local waste for local roads.’

RODDY MCEWEN
International business officer at MacRebur

An exciting trial

Producing and laying 1.1 million tonnes of asphalt each year, NYC DOT is one of the United States’ leaders in using Recycling Asphalt Pavement, and typically uses 40% in every mix.

‘When NYC DOT advised us of the trial using waste plastic in asphalt, we were initially reluctant as we hadn’t had much experience with the introduction of new products into our new Gencor plant.
 
‘However, as we researched the product and had the opportunity to discuss with other asphalt plant operators, our reluctance turned to curiosity and excitement. The opportunity to address a major environmental concern seemed too good to be true.
 
‘With prices for bituminous oil being so volatile, anything that can be done to reduce the use of this product in our mixes and still give our customers the same high standard product that they demand from City Asphalt is a plus.
 
‘We commend MacRebur for its efforts in attempting to address one of the modern world’s bigger issues, and we look forward to working with them to bring this new technology to the ‘Big Apple’.’

MATTHEW CRUZ
General manager at City Asphal

First expanding to the United States in 2020, MacRebur’s product is now used all over the world, creating waste plastic roads everywhere from Australia and Estonia, to Croatia, Spain and Greece.

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