CARLISLE’S Lowther Street will be the UK’s first to be asphalted with plastic waste in an innovative programme designed to find ways to recycle the product.

Lockerbie based MacRebur is working with Cumbria County Council in its self proclaimed mission to help solve the global plastic problem which has been blamed for damaging the environment and polluting the world’s oceans.

The company was founded in 2016 and is already known the world over.

It’s taken part in similar projects in countries as far afield as the USA, New Zealand, Australia, Bahrain plus many others.

The Lowther Street project will recycle the equivalent of approximately 238,958 plastic bags that would otherwise have been incinerated or go to landfill.

The project is part of the two-year ADEPT SMART Places Live Labs Programme - a £22.9m initiative funded by the Department for Transport.

The new road will look exactly the same as regular asphalt but because it contains plastic, the company said it would be more flexible.

This means it can cope better with contraction and expansion caused by changes in the weather - hopefully reducing the number of potholes.

Toby McCartney, the company’s CEO, said: “After first starting trials in January 2019, it is brilliant to see the first waste plastic highway take form in Carlisle.

“Implementing waste plastic roads across the country would provide a real opportunity to reduce the carbon footprint of road construction.

“With ministers planning to spend over £27bn on road building over the next five years, it’s so important to make sure that construction is as environmentally-friendly as possible by decreasing carbon emissions and fossil fuels.”

Councillor Keith Little, Cumbria County Council cabinet member for highways, said: “The county council is investing around £150,000 in resurfacing works on Lowther Street.

“This will make journeys smoother and safer for drivers.

“Working with our contractor Hanson, Cumbria is leading the way in the construction of plastic roads and there is a genuine worldwide interest in this ground-breaking material.”

The company has created a number of solutions by replacing part of the bitumen normally used to produce asphalt with granulated plastic.

MacRebur also said its roads required less fossil fuel, thereby reducing carbon emissions.

The roadwork follows months of trials in Cumbria as part of the Department for Transport programme, which had evaluated the sustainability and suitability of plastic waste additives in highway construction.

The Cumbrian project has been allocated £1.6m by the programme and it is one of eight projects selected to carry out real world tests using new highways technology and methods on the county’s roads.