Cumbria County Council is pioneering a plastic binder in its roads in a bid to cut carbon emissions.
After a series of trials last year the plastic asphalt binder additive, called MR6 and produced by asphalt supplier MacRebur, is being used for a £200,000 resurfacing scheme on the A7. The council has been sharing its learning with the Department for Transport, which is researching innovations in highways technology.
The recycled waste plastic pellets reduce the amount of bitumen needed in asphalt. So far 500,000 bottles and 800,000 plastic bags have been used on the A7 scheme, saving around 5t of carbon emissions.
“A significant amount of recycled plastic goes into resurfacing works like the A7 resurfacing scheme, which has clear environmental benefits,” said Cumbria County Council assistant director highways for transport and fleet Stephen Hall.
“Our industry does have a significant environmental impact in terms of carbon footprint, use of oil based products and the use of quarried material. I believe it is incumbent upon us as an industry to seek new and innovative ways to mitigate this impact and using waste plastic in the road surface is something that we’ve been very keen to support. ”
A combination of polymers make up the waste plastic pellets, which can be used in warm or hot mix asphalts.