In the UK, Tarmac has introduced a rubberised asphalt which it says is capable of recycling end-of-life tyres (ELTs) into roads.
Tarmac estimates that it will be possible to recycle and reuse up to 750 waste tyres for every kilometre of highway surfaced with the new material, depending on the thickness of the road. This would help to reduce the 120,000 tonnes of rubber waste exported from the UK annually, the company adds.
Brian Kent, technical director at Tarmac, said: “While plastic recycling has attracted media headlines, used tyres remain a significant and overlooked waste stream and our new innovative rubber modified asphalts offer a more sustainable option for our industry and the environment.
“Rubber is used in asphalt across the USA, but in the UK there is a lack of the necessary industrial infrastructure required to allow manufacture of this type of material. Against the backdrop of major investment in the strategic road network there is now an opportunity to leverage this technology and unlock the benefits of this circular economic approach.”
As part of recent trials of the new material, Tarmac supplied asphalt with rubber in Coventry.
Rob Little, senior engineer, highways technical, Coventry City Council, says: “Coventry City Council is delighted with the rubberised asphalt trial; we hope we can use more of the product across the city in the future to help divert waste tyres from landfill and incineration to reduce the carbon footprint for road construction projects in Coventry.
The technology also has the potential to recycle and reduce the UK’s dependence on the export of ELT’s to other countries.
Peter Taylor OBE, secretary general of the Tyre Recovery Association says: “While there has been significant progress in reusing and recycling waste tyres in the UK, there is still an over reliance on the export of used tyres to countries such as China, India and Pakistan, who are importing fewer tyres as they become self-sufficient.
“The UK needs a second disposal route for used tyres. Tarmac’s commitment to developing rubberised asphalt provides an excellent opportunity to achieve this and deliver environmental savings for this under-used waste stream.”