Recycled plastic could be the future of paving roads in Tampa

A European company is turning trash into roads and hopes Tampa will take to the eco-friendly way of fixing two problems at once.

While most people look up and take in the sights of a city, Toby McCartney looks down at the roads. McCartney is the CEO of MacRebur Limited, a Scotland-based company that started a unique model to build roads in 2016.

“Part of the challenge that they have here with the roads is that many of them are cracked,” said McCartney during his visit to Tampa. “We take waste plastics. We process waste plastics, the bottles, the bags, the things that people throw away that are destined for landfill. We process them and we use them to replace the bitumen which is the black oil that you get in a road.”

He came to Tampa Monday to pitch his plastic road product to local construction companies planning projects that would use traditional asphalt.

“So, Tampa being sort of central to Florida for us, what we are looking for is to set up manufacturing here so that we can use local waste in local roads here in Florida,” said McCartney.

While the product replaces part of the asphalt, the road looks exactly the same.

“The contractors they come in, they take up that asphalt. They put new asphalt down and that asphalt can contain waste plastics from a local area,” he said.

Besides helping to get rid of plastic waste, McCartney said the process makes roads more durable and longer-lasting.

“They're all over the world. We started in the United Kingdom. I'm from Scotland, so that's where the first roads went down, a little place called Cumbria,” he said.

MacRebur hopes Florida will be next.

“We have 10 states in the United States that are distributing our products that are going down into roads, mainly private roads at this point until we work with the department of transports and we get these down onto your highways,” said McCartney.

The company said there was one road workers had to redo about every six months because of cracks and potholes, but then they used the plastics to resurface and haven’t had to touch it in four years.