Balfour Beatty builds sustainable recycled plastic cycle lane in London


Construction company Balfour Beatty, working in partnership with Thames Water, has saved over one million plastic bags from landfill by using a waste plastic asphalt on a key London cycle lane running through the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford.

For the first time on a UK cycle lane, traditional asphalt has been replaced with a greener alternative. The new material uses waste plastic that would otherwise have gone to landfill or incineration to replace part of the bitumen used in asphalt production. Provided by MacRebur, a plastic asphalt developer, the new material is more flexible and adaptable under temperature changes, which reduces the chances of cracking and potholes forming over time. To further enhance the sustainability of the new cycle lane, the material can also be recycled again at the end of its life, completing the recycling process.

MacRebur takes a mix of waste plastics, granulates them and add them into the making of an enhanced asphalt road. After years of tests and trials all over the world, the company now promote three waste plastic additives into asphalt, which all meet various worldwide roads standards and have been rigorously tested against standard asphalt, bitumen and Polymer Modified Bitumen. MacRebur is currently involved in an extended trial of the use of its new plastic road surface material in Cumbria on behalf of the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT).

The new cycle lane formed part of wider works to upgrade the Victorian sewer network running through the Waterworks Bridge in Stratford. With a focus on sustainably and delivering an innovative solution to its clients, Balfour Beatty has helped Thames Water deliver a more sustainable project that will ultimately benefit the public.

“Throughout the project, sustainability played a vital role in the choices we made. Finding a material which not only saved plastic from landfill, but which could also be recycled again at the end of its life, is the ultimate sustainable solution,” noted John McKay, Balfour Beatty’s senior construction manager for the works. “We are proud to have taken an innovative approach to sustainability and ultimately offer a more sustainable yet practical result to the community for their new cycle lane.”

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Adam joined the company in 1994, and has been News Editor of TTT since 2009. In his other role as Circulation Manager, he helped create the original Traffic Technology International distribution list 23 years ago, and has been working on it ever since. Outside of work, he is a keen fisherman, runs a drumming band, and plays an ancient version of cricket.