NI 67 - Coventry to trial rubber roads made from waste car tyres which helps the environment and reduces traffic noise

Post date: 12-Jun-2019 09:52:06

  • Tarmac has created an asphalt that consists of old car tyres shred into granules

  • Re-purposing old rubber to make roads could provide a use for the 40m waste tyres produced annually in the UK

  • Rubberised roads are already popular in the US - they help reduce traffic noise

Motorists in Coventry will soon be driving on roads made from old tyres.

The city council will be the first in England to trail Tarmac's revolutionary surface, which is a new asphalt consisting of shredded car tyres that were once fitted to a Briton's vehicle. As well as having environmental benefits, rubberised roads have a proven track record for reducing traffic noise.

Re-purposing old rubber to manufacture roads could provide a use for the 40million waste tyres produced every year in the UK.

UK firm Tarmac shreds the old rubber down into granules and then adds it to a mix that can be laid to create a road surface. The technology is already being used across the US. Road surfaces consisting of old tyres have also already been tested in Scotland in 2014.

When used on a stretch of dual carriageway between Perth and Dundee it was found to reduce traffic noise by 25 per cent.

But it's the environmental gains that could make the biggest difference. Tarmac estimates the technology will 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 in turn help to reduce the 120,000 tonnes of rubber waste exported from the UK annually.

The initiative is part of Tarmac's commitment to a 'circular economy', with the business recycling 8.7million tonnes of waste from other industries every year. It also builds on the company's reuse of waste tyres to power its cement kilns and its commitment as a net user of waste. 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.

Picture of mass of used tyres piled-up as waste in a dump

'Rubber is used in asphalt across the US, 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.'

Rob Little, a senior engineer at Coventry City Council, added: '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.'

The technology is offers significant scope for the UK to lower its dependence on the export of old tyres to other countries, according to Peter Taylor, secretary general of the Tyre Recovery Association.

'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,' he said.

'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.'

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