Surfacing material used in East Devon car park is sustainable, environmentally friendly, durable and meets district council’s Climate Change commitment

Rolle Mews Car Park, Budleigh Salterton is being resurfaced by East Devon District Council this week using an innovative new material.

Instead of conventional asphalt, an alternative type of surface incorporating non-recyclable plastic waste, in place of a portion of bituminous binder material, will be used.

This product, which is produced by MacRebur, has several advantages.

From an environmental perspective, incorporation of ground-up non-recyclable plastics into the surfacing removes the need to incinerate these materials or send them to landfill by giving them further use.

The addition of these plastics to the bitmac reduces the amount of bitumen (a material obtained from crude oil and used to bind aggregate in road surfacing) required. When the surfacing reaches the end of its life, the surface can be ‘planed’ (excavated) out and recycled into a new surface.

The addition of plastic is also beneficial to the surfaces’ properties, making it more flexible and durable, and extending its life.

Independent laboratory testing has proved that MacRebur does not leech microplastics into the environment, and does not produce additional hazardous fumes in comparison to regular surfacing.

The manufacturing process also ensures that no plastic granules, sometimes known as ‘nurdles’ enter the environment during construction. Plastic granules produced at MacRebur’s factory are sealed in bags for transportation to the local asphalt manufacturer, who then add the granules to the bitumen in controlled factory conditions, where it is heated and blended into the mixture. As a result, the granules are already melted by the time that they reach site, and there is no loose plastic present on site.

This resurfacing project will recycle 600kg of waste plastic (the equivalent weight of 48,000 plastic bottles) that would otherwise be disposed of, will reduce fossil fuel extraction for the surfacing by 6%, and save 580kg of carbon emissions which is the equivalent of either:

  • Driving nearly 1400 miles in an average passenger vehicle
  • Burning 617 pounds of coal
  • Charging 71,418 smartphones
  • The carbon removed by growing 9 trees for a period of 10 years

Source: https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator

The need to resurface Rolle Mews Car Park was identified during the Council’s car park condition surveys, which take place annually across the district.

Inspections cover elements of the built environment including condition of surfacing, lining, walls and lighting columns among other features. Other less comprehensive inspections of East Devon’s car parks are completed by civil enforcement officers during their daily rounds.

The use of this lower carbon material is in line with the council’s Climate Change Action Plan, which aims to make the council and its activities carbon neutral by 2040.

East Devon’s Engineering Department, who will oversee the works, will continue to use more sustainable materials within their projects and have taken measures, such as including compulsory carbon reduction questions within tenders, in order to ensure future works are more environmentally friendly.  

The resurfacing works will also present the opportunity to redesign the car park’s layout, which will include a change for the majority of spaces from angled echelon bays to linear bays at 90 degrees to traffic flow, although a one way traffic flow will still be in place.

This will increase the number of available bays by 11, bringing the total number of bays in the car park to 57, providing a much needed boost to this popular car park’s capacity.

Works will also be undertaken to repair the car park’s boundary walls, improve drainage and where unusable space is present, include planting. Trees and plants absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating and are an important factor in the council’s commitment to Climate Change and reducing its carbon footprint.

Plants and trees in car parks also provide shade can reduce the need for air conditioning (both in car and around buildings) and help to reduce the impact of the ‘urban heat island effect’ where temperatures in built-up areas are typically several degrees higher due to the presence of heat-absorbing materials, such as bitmac. Trees also provide essential habitat for wildlife and can improve air quality. The right tree, in good condition, can capture and store up to 100 gallons of water a day, reducing runoff as well as filtering pollutants.

Construction began on Monday 24 February and will conclude on Friday 28 February 2020. The works will be completed by C Sansom Ltd, who were awarded the contract following a competitive tender process. The car park will be closed for the duration of this period.

Commenting on the car park resurfacing, Cllr Geoff Pook, East Devon’s portfolio holder for asset management, said:

East Devon District Council has a responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint and innovative materials such as this offer a promising solution. Construction activities contribute over 10% of the UK’s carbon emission and so this is a key area to cut down on. We will continue to research, trial and use more sustainable materials wherever possible.