Springfield becomes first UK housebuilder to debut ‘plastic road’
Springfield Properties has taken a major step towards making its developments more environmentally sustainable after becoming the UK’s first housebuilder to use waste plastic to build a road on a housing development.
To be used initially on a section of road at the company’s Linkwood Steadings development in Elgin, the new road surfacing material uses waste plastic as part of an environmentally friendly asphalt product.
The product reduces the amount of bitumen needed in the asphalt mix. For every tonne of bitumen replaced, the road surfacing carbon footprint is reduced by a tonne of carbon dioxide. The new surface looks like a traditional road, however, thanks to the flexible properties of plastic, it benefits from increased durability and longevity.
The landmark installation marks Springfield out as the first housebuilder in the UK to use recycled materials for its roads, as the developer leads the way in a concerted push to make the industry more sustainable.
For the project Springfield teamed up with MacRebur, which has developed and patented a way to use waste plastic in roads, alongside 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.
“Potholes are an increasing and costly problem which 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.”
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.
“At MacRebur, we have worked with household names in the commercial sector, the Department for Transport, Highways England and councils to use our product in everything from roads to carparks and racetracks to runways,” she said.
“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.”
Springfield’s press and events co-ordinator, Dale Ashelford, helped initiate and deliver the ‘plastic road’ project. She said: “When I learned about MacRebur’s plastic roads, I was confident it was something that Springfield would consider due to the positive environmental impact and practical benefits of the plastic mix.
“We have an ethos at Springfield where employees are given opportunities to develop wherever possible. When I pitched the recycled plastic roads idea, I was encouraged to take the idea forward myself. Despite having no civil engineering experience, I worked with the civils team and Dave Main, to bring the idea to fruition. It’s been a great project to get my teeth into and it’s exciting to have, what I’m sure will be the first of many, plastic roads in Springfield developments.”
Springfield has implemented a number of green polices in recent years, including the introduction of cabling for electric vehicle charge points.
Springfield Properties, chief executive, Innes Smith, added: “Exploring ways to protect the environment has been a Springfield focus for some time now and over the years we’ve implemented a number of green policies. Last year, we stopped using plastic cups in our offices and installed electric car charging points for our staff. This led to the installation of cabling for electric car charging points in all our private homes.
“Encouraging our staff is an important part of the Springfield ethos. This includes taking the time to explore new ideas our employees may have. These ideas can come from anywhere – ideas about roads don’t just have to come from the civil engineering team – this one came from marketing.
“Dale has taken this project forward with support from Dave Main. Now we have our first recycled plastic road in place which gives our customers a more durable road and helps with the current plastic waste epidemic. We already have our second stretch of private road planned and going forward, we will be discussing recycled plastic roads with local authorities with a goal to using plastic roads on all of our developments across Scotland.”