Cumbria County Council has trialled a ‘revolutionary’ new product designed to make road surfaces stronger and more durable.
MacRebur – based in Eaglesfield in Dumfries & Galloway – is led by Cumbrian Toby McCartney, 39, a former pupil of Lime House School near Carlisle. His firm has produced a bitumen substitute which can be used in standard asphalt mix, made from locally-sourced waste plastic and known as MR6. The firm recently secured a £1m investment from Richard Branson following their win in the start-up category of the 2016 Virgin Media Business Voom competition.
The product provides an opportunity to reduce both the carbon footprint of road construction and the life costs of roads. This is achieved by significantly reducing the amount of bitumen needed in the asphalt mix, and also in the reduction of ongoing maintenance work due to the enhanced performance of the road.
Cumbria County Council trialled the new product at a junction on to the A6 near Calthwaite, on Monday 12 December, with support on site from Toby and the MacRebur team. The work included resurfacing a section of the road where the current standard asphalt has failed to be resilient to the number of heavy goods vehicles travelling to and from the nearby Sand Quarry and water bottling plant. This trial is expected to demonstrate the durability of MacRebur’s product in a demanding location. The product was laid by the county council’s contractor, DSD Ltd from Carlisle.
Toby McCartney, founder and Managing Director of MacRebur, said: “Cumbria County Council is trialling our innovative MR6 waste plastic pellets in their road to make this junction with the A6 stronger and longer lasting and reduce the risk of pot holes. We have selected plastic waste from Cumbria to use in the A6 road. Cumbria is leading the way in innovation into their road networks and at the same time reducing the plastic waste that is dumped into land fill sites.”
Councillor Keith Little, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “I’m delighted that Cumbria has been the first council in the country to trial this fantastic new road surface. It will provide a stronger and more sustainable solution for road surfacing and filling potholes, and I look forward to treating more roads across the Cumbria network in the coming months and years. I’d also like to congratulate Toby and all the MacRebur team for securing such high level investment from one of the country’s most prolific entrepreneurs – it’s a real testament to their hard work and creative vision.”
The new product has already been laid on private roads but this is the first time it has been used on a public highway. Cumbria is not the only area to take a keen interest in MacRebur’s products – Toby has had requests from all over the world – including Australia, Uruguay and all over Europe. The product will also be used in road surface repairs following Virgin Media underground cable works throughout the UK.
Subject to successful trials, which will be monitored during the next six months, a plan to roll out the process to other roads in the county will be developed and implemented in the New Year.