The new road surfacing material is being used initially on a section of road at the company’s Linkwood Steadings development in Elgin. The use of plastic reduces the amount of bitumen needed in the asphalt mix, reducing the carbon footprint of the material. Springfield said that the new surface looks like a traditional road but benefits from increased durability and longevity, thanks to the flexible properties of plastic.
For the project Springfield teamed up with MacRebur - which has developed and patented a way to use waste plastic in roads - and asphalt producer Pat Munro. MacRebur uses plastic waste that would otherwise have gone to landfill or incineration. It turns this into granules which are then mixed with a special activator, reducing the amount of fossil fuel required in asphalt production.
Springfield Properties North managing director Dave Main said: “Last year, Zero Waste Scotland reported that non-recycled plastic was costing Scotland £11 million a year. They also stated that 20 million plastic bottles were littered around Scotland and that 120,000 tonnes of plastic waste was produced by Scottish households alone.
“The road in Elgin accounts for 20 tonnes of recycled plastic, the equivalent to 17,042 plastic bags or 6,000 plastic bottles, which would otherwise have been consigned to landfill or incineration.”
He added that potholes are an increasing and costly problem that plastic roads could help to address. “Between 2014 and 2017, there was a 52% increase in reports of potholes in Scotland alone. MacRebur’s plastic roads have been through rigorous tests to meet British and European Standards and are up to 60% stronger than our current roads, which should improve driving quality and reduce maintenance costs.”
Main said that it is hoped the progressive measure will act as a catalyst to introducing the product more widely on Springfield developments, as well as inspiring the wider industry to consider switching to the environmentally friendly asphalt product. Springfield has committed to working with local authorities across Scotland to raise awareness of the benefits of using recycled plastic in roads and facilitate their introduction.
Sarah Lakin, contracts manager for MacRebur, said she was delighted to work with Springfield on the project. “We are very proud to add Springfield to our growing list of clients and welcome them onboard as the first housebuilder in the UK to use waste plastic in their roads and we look forward to working with them again. We also hope this pioneering project will inspire other developers in Scotland to follow Springfield’s lead as our product is available across the country as well as the UK and abroad.”