Cumbria trials plastic road


Cumbria CC could start a roll out of ‘plastic roads’ across the county in the new year after it trialled a bitumen substitute on its network this month.

Known as MR6, the new product can be used in standard asphalt mix and is made from locally-sourced waste plastic converted into pellets. Cumbria CC is the first local authority to trial this product and having already been used on private roads this is the first time it has been used on a public highway.

The plastic product tried for the first time on a public highway in Cumbria

Produced by MacRebur, the product was trialled at a junction on to the A6 near Calthwaite where the current standard asphalt has failed due to the number of heavy goods vehicles travelling in the area.

Stephen Hall, assistant director highways transport and fleet at Cumbria CC, told Transport Network: ‘Here in Cumbria our roads face some of the toughest weather conditions in the UK so we are always keen to look at innovative ways to maintain our highway network.

‘Over the last 12 months we’ve been working with local company MacRebur to prepare a trial of their new surfacing product which replaces bitumen in the standard asphalt mix with locally sourced recycled plastic.

'Initial testing of this product suggests that it is not only positive from an environmental perspective, diverting waste plastic from landfill and reducing the overall carbon footprint of the surface but also that it offers improved strength and durability of the road surface thereby offering improved life-cycle value for money.

‘Subject to performance and regular monitoring over the next six months we are planning on extending this trial to further locations during 2017 and potentially using this product in some of the locations being repaired after last Decembers floods.

‘Cumbria has an international reputation for advanced engineering so the County Council have been delighted to support the development of this innovation in highway maintenance.’

Having recently secured a £1m investment from Richard Branson following their win in the start-up category of the 2016 Virgin Media Business Voom competition, MacRebur’s product is also expected to be used in road surface repairs following Virgin Media underground cable works throughout the UK.

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