A new company has its eyes set on the world's roads. Through their 'magic formula', they want to minimise not just the environmental impacts of road building and maintenance, but also help reduce the plastic waste issue and, while they're at it, ensure that tax payers' money goes the extra mile. How do they do it?
A trip to India was what sparked the idea of new venture MacRebur - whose motto is 'stronger, greener, cheaper roads' - as co-founder Toby MacGuire came face to face with waste management issues in Mumbai, and experienced first-hand the life of a plastic-waste picker while there.
As plastic waste sits in landfills, toxic substances leach through the soil and contaminate land and water sources, while also posing a health threat to those who seek to make a living by sifting through them in their search for recyclable materials to sell on. Incineration is itself a controversial waste disposal method, that not only can burn precious resources, but generates harmful byproducts such as air pollutants, and of course carbon emissions.
On his return from India, Toby and his friends Gordon and Nick put their heads together to find a way to reduce the mountains of plastic that end up in landfills - indeed, as mentioned on their website, in the UK some 56 per cent of plastic waste is either landfilled or incinerated.
They came up with the MacRebur Plasmac, a road surface material that combines plastic waste (such as bottles, bags, cups and film wrapping) with bitumen to create a sustainable, more durable alternative to British standard asphalt.
The formula is at once a road maintenance and a plastic waste prevention solution. And, as roads made from Plasmac last longer than their standard asphalt counterparts, it can also give cash-strapped local authorities and taxpayers value for money. What's not to love?
Any smart city's transport infrastructure vision must surely include a sustainable road network, electric cars and public transport powered by renewable energy sources, and safe and cool bike lanes everyone would want to ride on. A solution like (recycled) plastic roads can certainly help bring that vision one little step closer.
MacRebur are the start-up category winners of the VOOM 2016 Award, and you can watch their successful pitch here: