Balfour Beatty builds cycle lane from plastic bags

8 August 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Balfour Beatty has built a cycle lane through the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park using waste plastic asphalt that has saved over a million plastic bags from going to landfill.

The contractor claimed it was the first time that asphalt has been replaced with a greener alternative on a UK cycle lane.

Working in partnership with Thames Water, Balfour Beatty used material provided by plastic asphalt developed by MacRebur.

The manufacturer claims its new material is more flexible and adaptable under temperature changes which reduces the chances of cracking and potholes forming over time. The material can also be recycled again at the end of its life.

John McKay, Balfour Beatty senior construction manager for the works, said: “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.

“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.”

The new cycle lane formed part of wider works to upgrade the Victorian sewer network running through the Waterworks Bridge in Stratford.


Repeat recycling, hopefully with relatively low energy input needs, sounds like an attractive proposition. Is it established that wear and tear on the surface doesn't yield micro beads of plastic that get washed into the surface water drainage and wind up in water courses etc ?

Steve, 8 August 2019

Excellent news

Sheila, 8 August 2019

As someone who has seen how plastic bags disintegrate into tiny pieces, especially when disturbed, I wonder how the plastic would eventually be recycled after being part of the footway out in the sun for a few decades.
With sun exposure and wear, it could be tiny plastic pieces that get washed off; not just the microbeads Steve mentions.
Like to hope I am wrong about all these potential problems.

Henry, 9 August 2019

This is so impressive.

Well done to the company for leading the way in the use of recycling.
Let’s hope more companies follow suit.

There is a long way to go in the methods of recycling, but this is really a great way in using plastic bags.

The fact that the material can be reused is absolutely brilliant.

Angela , 9 August 2019

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