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Volvo Car UK and the Brownlee brothers unveil the ‘Recycled Road’

ByDave Stopher

Jul 4, 2021 #Volvo
  • Volvo brand ambassadors and local heroes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee help open the innovative and sustainable new road surface
  • Volvo Car UK together with MacRebur and Leeds City Council have – quite literally – shown what the road to sustainability looks like by joining forces to resurface popular cycling route in Leeds using waste plastic and recycled steel
  • MacRebur, the Plastic Road company, was selected to support the project following the 2019 Volvo Visionaries initiative
  • A section of Harrogate Road has been resurfaced with recycled steel and 850kg of waste plastics – the equivalent weight of 170,000 supermarket carrier bags. This is mixed with an additional 213 tonnes of aggregate formed from slag steel, the estimated weight of around 710* end-of-life cars
  • Volvo Car UK is the Official Vehicle Partner to British Triathlon and the Presenting Partner of the AJ Bell 2021 World Paratriathlon Leeds

Volvo Car UK, Olympic and World Champion triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, and MacRebur have together revealed a sustainable cycling route built using recycled waste material in Leeds, ahead of the Leeds World Triathlon Series, 5-6 June, 2021.

Volvo Car UK and MacRebur – ‘The Plastic Road Company’ – as well as Leeds City Council, have resurfaced a stretch of Harrogate Road – one of the city’s most popular cycling routes – to increase the safety for cyclists travelling to and from the city centre to the Yorkshire Dales. The project came to fruition following the 2019 Volvo Visionaries initiative, run in conjunction with the Sunday Times. 

This initiative set out to uncover a series of visionary entrepreneurs and companies working towards making the world a smarter, more resourceful and compassionate place. MacRebur was selected as a company who provided a stand-out solution to help shape the future of transport and mobility in a way that protects and connects us to nature.

The ‘Recycled Road’ has been created with a significantly lower environmental impact by filling in potholes along the road with 850kg of recycled plastic waste, the equivalent of 170,000 supermarket carrier bags.

Furthermore, the road surface also comprises of 213 tonnes of aggregate formed from slag steel, the estimated weight of around 710* end-of-life cars. The Recycled Road has saved a total of 3,200kg of CO2e through the manufacturing process and the reduction of 850kg of bitumen fossil fuels from being extracted.

MacRebur’s waste plastic product benefits from longevity over conventional road surfacing methods because the plastic allows the road to be more flexible and adaptable to changing weather conditions and temperatures, meaning less cracking of the surface, and reducing the chance of potholes reappearing once applied.

Potholes are among the UK’s biggest causes of accidents and injury across the UK for both cyclists and motorists. In the past five years, 250 cyclists have been killed or seriously injured due to poor road conditions1. In 2020, 1.7m potholes were filled throughout the UK2, with a further 4,700 reported between January and March3 in 2021.

The popularity of cycling in the UK has soared in the past year, with bike sales increasing by 60%4 and participation increasing by 108% year-on-year among 18-29-year-old females5. The UK Government’s £2 billion investment pledge to promote sustainable active transport solutions – such as cycling – to help improve road safety6 is encouraging more people to get on their bikes.

Volvo Cars acknowledges that every part of the supply chain and the environments in which a car operates need to adapt and find sustainable solutions when it comes to mitigating climate change. The company has outlined an ambitious plan to become a climate-neutral company by 2040. These ambitions go beyond addressing tailpipe emissions through all-out electrification into tackling carbon emissions in its manufacturing network, wider operations, supply chain and through the recycling and reuse of materials.

Kristian Elvefors, Volvo Car UK Managing Director, said: “We are delighted to be involved with a project that represents a commitment to improving safety on the roads for cyclists and motorists, as well as one that showcases an ingenious sustainable solution to road maintenance. Volvo is re-thinking sustainability across all of our operations and cars, and is looking at our brand partnerships to make a positive impact on society and to help protect our planet.”

The Harrogate Road project has been completed in a region of Yorkshire – frequently used by the Brownlee brothers to train – ahead of this year’s World Triathlon Series event in Leeds, which takes place on 5-6 June, 2021.

Double and reigning Olympic champion and Volvo brand ambassador Alistair Brownlee said: “I’m an Active Travel Ambassador for Leeds, so not only do I use these roads regularly in training, but I’m also passionate about sustainability and improving the safety for cyclists out on the road. It’s great to be working with Volvo to support the growth of British triathlon and find ways to encourage safe and active lifestyles.”

World champion triathlete and Volvo brand ambassador Jonny Brownlee said: “Who knew that you could fill potholes with recycled waste? Cycling is a great way to connect with nature, whether you are competing, training or going for a leisurely ride. I’m proud to be a part of a solution that allows cyclists and motorists to follow their passions in a sustainable and safe manner, and to reduce the impact of our sport on the planet.”

Gordon Reid, Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder at MacRebur, said: “MacRebur is delighted to be working alongside Volvo Car UK – an industry-leader with regards to safety and sustainability – on the Recycled Roads project in Leeds. Volvo and MacRebur share the same values when it comes to promoting a circular economy and pioneering smart, innovative solutions to benefit road users and the wider society.”

Leeds City Council executive board member for infrastructure and climate, councillor Helen Hayden, said: “We are keen to support innovative highway projects to learn if there are better ways that materials can be recycled for the benefit of all road users. We all know people dislike potholes, and plastic waste, using a new recycled combination of plastic and steel, can help fill potholes and improve safety on our highways. We are pleased to be part of a project which can bring about carbon savings on our highways and look forward to seeing the results of this innovation.”

Recycled Roads follows the UK launch of the Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin pure electric car, the first of five all-electric cars to be launched over the next five years. Volvo is committed to leading the fast-growing premium electric car market and plans to become a fully electric car company by 2030.

For more information on Volvo Car UK’s sustainability commitments, please visit www.volvocars.com/uk/about/our-company/this-is-volvo-cars/sustainability