United Kingdom testing durable roads made of recycled plastic

Despite the fact that road vehicles have changed enormously over the past 70 years — in both quality and quantity — the roads they drive on have advanced surprisingly little.

U.K. entrepreneur and engineer Toby McCartney has been working to change that, courtesy of technology that allows for the creation of high quality road asphalt out of recycled plastic waste. With the innovative tech, he now wants to use discarded plastic from landfills to transform millions of kilometers of roads around the world.

“We take waste plastic that is destined for landfill sites and recycle it,” McCartney told Digital Trends. “What we’re able to do is to take this plastic that has been thrown away, and use a special formula to clean it off, create pellets using it, and then use those pellets to add to a mixture of rocks and bitumen to make longer-lasting roads.”

So far, the scheme has won the approval of Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, and McCartney’s company MacRebur has gotten the support of two local governments in England to start using its MR6 product to build their roads.

plastic roads longer lasting reduce landfill 20170426 143234

McCartney describes the technology as a “real win-win across the industry.” It lessens the reliance on fossil fuels due to the reduction in oil that needs to be used as part of the formulation, helps cut down on waste plastic going to landfill, and improves the streets we drive on. The plastic-based road asphalt made by MacRebur is 60 percent tougher than standard asphalt. By tweaking the recipe, the surface can also be modified for different environments.

In addition, it saves money for all involved. Companies that sell the waste plastic to McCartney save money by not being taxed for sending material to landfill. Local governments save money because they get a longer-lasting road which needs less maintenance. Drivers save money because they’re driving on better roads, with fewer potholes. And McCartney and his colleagues save money because, well, they’re being paid for their work.

Next up, he says the plan is to expand to new countries — although he noted that this must be done the right way.

“Something we’re very conscious of is that we’re still classed as a startup,” McCartney said. “We don’t want to grow too quickly, because we want the infrastructure in place to produce our pellets. We’re aware of dealing with over-demand, which would leave us unable to fulfill orders. As a result, we’re being very careful in selecting the countries that we’re expanding into.”

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Who needs a Crown Vic? Check out the coolest police cars from around the world

Not every police department opts for either a Dodge Charger or Ford Explorer. Some law enforcement agencies, including those located in Dubai and Japan, run a different kind of fleet. Here, we've gathered some of the coolest cruisers in…
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (February 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Product Review

Fascinating Finney phone is crypto in a nutshell: Exciting, but also terrifying

The Sirin Labs Finney phone is to cryptocurrency what the iPhone is to Apple Pay. It facilitates the payment, processing, and exchanging of cryptocurrencies on a smartphone, and surprisingly does it in a user-friendly way.
Movies & TV

Hilarious new Kickstarter aims to fix Scorcese’s last scene in The Departed

A fan of The Departed and apparent hater of rat-as-symbolism imagery has launched a Kickstarter campaign to digitally erase the rodent from the end of Martin Scorsese’s 2006 movie.
Emerging Tech

Baristas beware, Bbox cafe uses robots to brew your morning coffee

Want your morning coffee and pastry prepared by robot? Bbox, a new coffee shop in downtown Berkeley, California, lets customers place their order by app and then uses automation to take care of the rest.
Emerging Tech

This ridiculous new flamethrower makes Elon Musk’s look like a cigarette lighter

The XL18 Flamethrower is a flame-shooting beast on steroids, capable of firing off bursts of flame more than 110 feet in length. The best part? You can order it over the internet today.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX just nailed its most challenging Falcon 9 rocket landing to date

If you've been following the SpaceX launch calendar, you know this week marks the first launch from Cape Canaveral in two months. We have the details on where you can watch the launch live.
Emerging Tech

Touchdown! Japan successfully lands its Hayabusa2 spacecraft on asteroid Ryugu

Japan's space agency has just completed the latest stage of its extraordinarily complex mission, successfully landing its Hayabusa2 spacecraft on an asteroid millions of miles from Earth.
Emerging Tech

Delivery drones: NASA to test advanced traffic control system for cities

Delivery drone services are edging closer as NASA prepares to demonstrate its advanced drone traffic management system, which it claims offers safe and effective control of autonomous aircraft in urban areas.
Emerging Tech

Kickstarter campaign aims to help make 3D-printed space habitats for Mars

Mars X-House is an ambitious project that's intended to create a prototype future Mars habitat using 3D printing. And, thanks to a new Kickstarter campaign, you can be a part of it.
Emerging Tech

Engineer turns his old Apple lle into an wheeled robot, and even gives it a sword

How do you give new life to a 30-year-old computer? Software engineer Mike Kohn found a way by transforming his old Apple IIe into a wheeled robot. Check it out in all its 1980s glory.
Emerging Tech

Virgin Galactic completes another test flight, this time with a passenger

Virgin Galactic chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses rode the company's spacecraft as a passenger on Friday, a key milestone toward commercial availability of the flights later this year. Moses rode along to test "cabin design elements."
Emerging Tech

Controversial CRISPR baby experiment may have resulted in brain enhancements

China’s CRISPR baby saga continues to rage on. Scientists have now expressed concerns that the procedure may have also resulted in changes in the babies’ brains affecting cognition.