A new innovation to slash waste and accelerate the development of a circular economy hit the road with the launch of a new asphalt made from recycled tires. The rubberized asphalt was created by construction materials giant Tarmac, which estimates it will be possible to recycle and reuse 750 waste tires for every kilometer of highway surfaced with the new mix.
The UK generates 40 million waste tires every year, making up the bulk of the 120,000 tons of rubber waste it exports on an annual basis. “While plastic recycling has attracted media headlines, used tires remain a significant and overlooked waste stream,” said Brian Kent, technical director at Tarmac.
“Rubber is used in asphalt across the USA, but in the UK there is a lack of the necessary industrial infrastructure required to allow the 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.”
The new material has already been trialed in Coventry, with Tarmac supplying the City Council with the recycled asphalt mix. “Coventry City Council is delighted with the rubberized asphalt trial,” said Rob Little, a senior highways engineer at the council. “We hope we can use more of the product across the city in the future to help divert waste tires from landfill and incineration to reduce the carbon footprint for road construction projects in Coventry.”
Tarmac has stepped up its focus on developing circular economy practices in recent years, recycling 8.7 million tonnes of waste from other industries annually, according to the firm.