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Demolition & Recycling, Products

What to do with oceanic waste plastic? Build roads

It’s no secret that innovators often come to their best discoveries in unexpected moments. For Toby McCartney, MacRebur Ltd. co-founder and CEO, inspiration for the technology that would define his career came in an unlikely form.

It’s no secret that innovators often come to their best discoveries in unexpected moments. For Toby McCartney, MacRebur Ltd. co-founder and CEO, inspiration for the technology that would define his career came in an unlikely form.

“The inspiration behind MacRebur began when Toby went to an assembly at his 8-year-old daughter’s school,” said Topher Morrison, the head of MacRebur’s USA division.

“The kids were presenting a report to the parents on what lives in the oceans.” Said one kid: “Whales live in the ocean.” Said another: “Dolphins live in the ocean.”

“Toby’s daughter gets up and said: ‘Plastics live in our ocean. By the time I’m your age, there will be more plastic in the ocean than animals.’”

“There was this uncomfortable hush in the audience,” Morrison said.

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McCartney had what Morrison called “one of those intense dad moments, where he realised that he’s got to do something to prevent that from happening.” For the sake of his daughter and all the other children on stage, McCartney made a commitment to doing what he could to minimise the amount of waste plastics in landfills and oceans. After all, it’s a major environmental problem: an estimated 8 metric tonnes of plastic enter the ocean every year.

So, what to do with all that plastic?

McCartney remembered past family trips to India, where he had seen locals create temporary pothole filler by chopping up plastic bottles and melting them into bumps on the road, filling the gap with liquid plastic that would then harden into a serviceable road.

Of course, the method, lighting plastic on fire with gasoline, and the results, which were unstable at best, left something to be desired, but it gave him the germ of an idea.

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