A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by MacRebur's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from MacRebur is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Toby McCartney, CEO
A plastic road in Carlisle
MacRebur, known informally as “the plastic roads
company”, was founded in January 2016 by Toby
McCartney, Gordon Reid and Nick Burnett. Frustrated
by the crumbling, poor-quality roads in Dumfriesshire, the
trio began looking for a solution. During a trip to India, Toby
observed that Indian litter pickers were taking plastics from
landfill to fill potholes, and he decided to try something similar,
identifying both waste and road issues across the UK that could
be resolved with a single solution. This small Scottish company
recycles waste plastics as a substitute for bitumen in asphalt,
helping to create more durable roads up and down the country.
Their pioneering, patent-pending products are capturing
international attention, and have won them a raft of innovation
awards. Toby, the company’s CEO, elaborates.
From that simple idea, it took us a year of testing and trials to source the correct
mix of waste plastics back in the UK and create a product that would meet British
standards while also having a proven impact on road construction.
The development of MR6
We came up with a pellet made from 100 per cent waste plastics, which have
been diverted from landfill and found a new life and purpose. Our product then
goes into asphalt to replace some of the bitumen. The pellets fully homogenise
to form part of the binder – which results in the creation of durable roads with
»Directors: Toby McCartney,
Gordon Reid and Nick Burnett
»Established in 2015
»Based in Waterbeck,
»Services: Production and
supply of waste polymer
additives for asphalt
»No. of employees: 6
»Virgin Voom start-up winner,
»Green Pioneer Award
»Penrose Award for Innovation,
Highlighting best practice
enhanced performance. This has been
proven in UKAS-approved labs and on
the sites of our test roads.
By the end of 2016, we had our
initial product, MR6, named because
we have six daughters between us,
who may or may not be flattered by
their association with road surfaces,
and the first test plastic roads were
laid in Dumfries and Galloway in the
summer of that year, shortly followed
by roll-out in Cumbria. We soon won
a national competition run by Virgin
Media Business, which brought huge
exposure both for the MacRebur brand
and our new product.
The next steps
The year 2017 was dominated by a
crowdfunding campaign that raised
£1.2 million in investment over just
two weeks, followed by a major
marketing campaign in the London
area with JCDecaux. This then led
to increased attention from local
authorities, asphalt manufacturers
and construction firms around the UK
and abroad. More roads were laid in
different counties, including Cumbria,
London and Gloucestershire, as well
as sections of a lorry park and an
We laid the first international plastic
road in Bahrain in the same year, and
have since followed with roads in
Turkey, Australia and New Zealand
in the first half of 2018, and have
signed up to roll out more trial roads in
Canada, Portugal, South Africa, Spain,
Switzerland, Russia, the USA and GCC
nations, with distribution discussions
at an advanced stage across some of
these countries. MacRebur is now a
trademarked name in 13 countries,
and we have a PCT in place to patent
our product for worldwide intellectual
property protection.
This demonstrable success has been
a result of continued research and
development; our range has now
expanded to include MR8 and MR10
pellets, designed to suit different
climates, allowing clients to choose
the appropriate mix for their design
needs and environment. Our ongoing
innovation has led us to currently
analyse how best we could optimise
the use of waste plastics in highways
and other sectors; future developments
may include sealant products and
concrete reinforcement.
A plastic road in
Our ongoing
innovation has
led us to
analyse how
best we could
optimise the
use of waste
plastics in
highways and
other sectors
With the addition of a technical
assistant and project managers to our
workforce, we hope soon to set up
our own laboratory to manage the
phenomenal interest from abroad;
we have individuals and organisations
lining up to work as our foreign
distributors, and an Australian
professor in the field has already
written and presented a technical
paper on our work.
Domestic concerns
Although our progress internationally
has been spectacular, and marked
by potential opportunities to develop
professional recycling schemes and
improve infrastructure, we have
unfortunately seen movement
diminish in the UK. We have
appointed a business development
manager and are targeting the UK
market, but things have been difficult;
both plastic and roads are topical
subjects at the moment, and, though
the public do seem to love what we’re
doing, trying to break through with
a disruptive new idea and overturn
traditional methods has proven to be a
real challenge.
If we are to change the state of
things in Britain, our products must
be included as standard by the four
major companies who control 83 per
cent of the British asphalt market
between them – that’s what we’re
Funding has also been a massive
challenge. Although there is a lot of
traction and discussion about grants
for start-ups, we’ve found that they’re
actually not that accessible for a small
business. There’s often a saturation of
red tape, bureaucracy and unrealistic
expectations that just make the entire
process defeating and ultimately
unachievable. The time it takes to
process applications and actually
receive funding is nothing short
A greener future
Going forward, we will lobby for
changes to outdated legislation. The
Department of Transport’s BSEN
standards for bitumen cover the
inclusion of plastics, but there’s no
allowance or specialist information
covering waste plastics. Although
we’ve completed the requisite two
years of trials and extensive UKAS
testing, we want to see BSI develop
a waste polymer specification if our
market segment is to become truly
recognised and sustainable. This
would allow councils to specify a
requirement for the kind of product
we produce – which we’ve been
told, repeatedly, is what they actually
wantto do.
The problem of waste plastic
has assumed massive political
prominence internationally following
David Attenborough’s
Blue Planet
programmes, which showed the
detrimental effect that it can have on
the world’s oceans. We can’t pretend
that we can provide the whole answer
to this problem – if every road in
Britain were made of our product
we would only use ten per cent of
what goes to waste – and plastic can
replace up to 20 per cent of bitumen
in a road surface. Nonetheless, we
know that we’re making a useful
contribution, and we know that
we can do more – all thanks to the
original idea, inspired by those Indian
litter pickers.
The time it
takes to process
and actually
receive funding
is nothing short
of significant
MacRebur’s MR

This article was sponsored by MacRebur. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy