‘Plastic roads’ start-up impresses Sir Richard Branson

From left: Marcus Butler, Sara Blakely, Sir Richard Branson, MacRebur co-founder Toby McCartney, Tyra Banks and Peter Kelly. Picture: Contributed
From left: Marcus Butler, Sara Blakely, Sir Richard Branson, MacRebur co-founder Toby McCartney, Tyra Banks and Peter Kelly. Picture: Contributed
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A Dumfriesshire start-up that turns waste plastic into asphalt for roads has won a slice of a £1 million prize fund after impressing a panel of judges including Sir Richard Branson.

Lockerbie-based MacRebur will pick up a £50,000 cash prize and a £250,000 marketing campaign to help grow its business following its win at the Virgin Media Business Voom 2016 competition for entrepreneurs.

The firm, co-founded by Nick Burnett, Toby McCartney and Gordon Reid, says its Plasmac material – which uses waste plastics such as bags, bottles, cups and film wrapping as a replacement for bitumen – produces roads that are 60 per cent stronger than standard asphalt, helping to increase their lifespan and reduce potholes.

Alongside fellow winner Bio-bean, which recycles coffee grounds into sustainable biofuels, MacRebur had just two minutes to pitch its business to a judging panel comprising Virgin founder Branson, model and television personality Tyra Banks, Spanx underwear creator Sara Blakely, YouTube “vlogger” Marcus Butler and Virgin Media Business managing director Peter Kelly.

MacRebur won the start-up category, with London-based Bio-bean taking home the growth award. Both firms will also receive mentoring from Virgin StartUp, a broadband package and financial advice from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

Branson said: “I love seeing entrepreneurs pitch an idea to me which they are incredibly passionate about and it was both a difficult and inspiring task to choose just two winners.

“All the finalists of the Virgin Media Business Voom competition showed they have the dedication and intense desire to take their business to incredible heights and I believe they will all do so.”