Toby McCartney - CEO, MacRebur
Toby McCartney remembers the day that sparked his vision for MacRebur. He was at his six-year-old daughter's assembly. The topic was: what lives in our oceans? "She said 'plastic'," he says. "She had done her research and knew that by the time she reached 40 there would be more plastic in our oceans than fish." This spurred the serial entrepreneur to find a solution. He developed a patented way to use plastic to replace bitumen in roads, launching the Lockerbie-based business in 2016. The company has now opened one factory with plans for 30 more, and has laid roads from Yorkshire to Australia, all using locally produced waste plastic.
What's your own personal ambition?
My mission is to stop the plastic epidemic and to create circular economies all over the world. We set up factories in local areas, so every local authority can use their own waste to enhance their roads. I'm proud to be building something disruptive, that is doing good worldwide.
What has been the biggest challenge you faced?
Years ago, I ran a not-for-profit in India to help people in poverty. I'd seen local kids fill potholes with plastic, pour diesel over the top, and light them, sealing the hole. I tried doing that in Cumbria, where I was living, and I got in a lot of trouble with the council. So, instead, I found an accredited lab in Wales to do trials for me. I would send over household plastics cut into tiny squares to see if any could replace bitumen. 844 of the trials failed. It was only the 845th try that was positive.
Where will you be in 5 years' time?
We want to set up as many factories around the world as we possibly can, and we are currently receiving 30 enquiries a day. One of the successes of MacRebur is mixing purpose and profit.
"We'll either be massive or a total failure; MacRebur could never be a small business."
Toby McCartney, CEO, MacRebur