Plastic Pathways? It’s the End of the Road for Asphalt

By: Malena Esposito

Work, school, grocery stores, gym, restaurants, appointments, and home. No matter where you’re going, there’s a road underneath you, helping you get to your destination. Everyone uses roads, whether it’s by car, bus, or even bike. But according to The Evolving Planet, the asphalt these roads are made up of contributes to over 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide around the world annually. In addition to this massive pollution issue, asphalt roads are also weak, high maintenance, and extremely fleeting. Luckily, a solution exists, and it happens to be something we use every day–plastic.

After growing weary about the potholes around his house, British engineer Toby McCartney recalled how people in India were melting plastic into the holes and decided to invent his own environmental process to prevent this problem. In this process, bitumen, the oil-based binding agent used to hold roads together, is being replaced with plastic waste otherwise bound for landfills. His company, MacRuber, has concluded that this method is cheaper, 60% stronger, and lasts three times longer.

So far, McCartney has paved his driveway using plastic successfully and is pushing to make his pollution-reducing vision a reality in the UK. India and the Netherlands will also be using plastic in the near future, so when is the United States going to jump onto this environmental bandwagon?