Construction solutions firm Tarmac has developed new asphalt technology that enables recycling end-of-life tyres (ELTs) and uses them to build roads.
With 40 million waste tyres produced annually in the UK, the company has created this innovative asphalt mix using granulated rubber.
Tarmac has said it 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.
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This would help to reduce the 120,000 tonnes of rubber waste exported from the UK each year, said the firm.
The initiative is part of Tarmac’s commitment to the circular economy, with the business recycling 8.7 million tonnes of waste from other sectors every year, and also builds on the company’s reuse of waste tyres to power its cement kilns.
Tarmac technical director Brian Kent 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.
Coventry City Council highways technical senior engineer Rob Little said: “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. We are proud to be leading with our partners, Balfour Beatty and Tarmac in providing road surfaces which are providing significant environmental benefits for our communities.”
There is also significant scope to recycle and reduce the UK’s dependence on the export of ELT’s to other destinations.
Tyre Recovery Association secretary general Peter Taylor said: “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.”