Worldhack: How Zermatt uses plastic waste to fix potholes Zermatt not only impresses via its incredible views of the Matterhorn mountain and its high recreational value, but also stands out for its pioneering measures to protect the environment. Since 14 June, the municipality in the canton of Valais has been the first place in Switzerland to process recycled plastic to resurface a road junction. Using technology from award-winning Scottish firm MacRebur, the mechanism allows plastic waste that would have gone to incineration or landfill to be used to fill potholes. TEXT: HANNAH KROLLE I PHOTOS: SWITZERLAND TOURISM, MACREBUR, HENRY MEREDITH HARDY
Nick, co-founder of MacRebur, remembers: “I have always been an environmentalist since a young age, and I felt like that was an opportunity to make a meaningful difference.” Whereas conventional roads use bitumen to bind the rocks, limestones and sand, the new process allows 44 | Issue 77 | August 2019
us to replace some of the bitumen with plastic. “Polymers are a by-product in industry; they don’t have any home yet. Why not start using them?” he wonders, while conceding complications at the same time. “It’s difficult to turn a waste product into something you could use
for construction. Quality is absolutely critical for us and the polymers need to be fully homogenised.” That’s one of the reasons why he appreciates the high level of environmental regulation in Scotland, which enables MacRebur to further process the plastic waste right after they have received it. By now, MacRebur has constructed roads in the US, Australia, Turkey, Bahrain, Slovakia and New Zealand – and since June, also in Switzerland. “Like-minded people around the world want to get involved. That’s brilliant,” Nick enthuses. “Slovakia, for example, is very keen on trying new products, whereas we have
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