Tarmac has created an asphalt mix using granulated rubber and is looking to exploit the 40 million waste tyres that are produced every year in the UK.
First contractor to try it out is Balfour Beatty, in Coventry.
Tarmac estimates that it will be possible to recycle and reuse up to 750 old 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.
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 rubberised asphalt to a Balfour Beatty local authpority highways project in Coventry.
Coventry City Council senior highways engineer Rob Little said that the council was delighted with 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,” he said.
Peter Taylor, secretary general of the Tyre Recovery Association, backs the product. “The UK needs a second disposal route for used tyres,” he said. “Tarmac’s commitment to developing rubberised asphalt provides an excellent opportunity to achieve this and deliver environmental savings for this under-used waste stream.”