London – UK supplier of sustainable construction materials Tarmac has developed a new rubberised asphalt using recycled waste tires, the company announced 6 June.
The asphalt mix uses granulated rubber, roughly recycling 750 end-of-life tires (ELT) for every kilometre of surface covered - depending on the thickness of the road.
The initiative is part of Tarmac’s commitment to the circular economy, with the company recycling 8.7 million tonnes of waste from other industries every year.
The move also builds on the company’s reuse of waste tires to power its cement kilns.
“While plastic recycling has attracted media headlines, used tires remain a significant and overlooked waste stream,” said Brian Kent, technical director at Tarmac.
According to Kent, the UK has so far lacked the necessary industrial infrastructure required to allow the manufacture of this type of material.
But with "major investment" in the strategic road network, Kent believes that there is now an opportunity to leverage the technology.
Tarmac has supplied the new material to Coventry as part its recent trials runs and has received positive feedback.
“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,” said Rob Little, senior engineer, highways technical, Coventry City Council.
With the UK exporting 120,000 tonnes of rubber waste annually, the project can help reduce the country's dependence on the export of ELTs to countries such as China, India and Pakistan.
Such countries, according Peter Taylor OBE, secretary general of the Tyre Recovery Association, "are now importing fewer tires as they become self-sufficient.”
“The UK needs a second disposal route for used tires. Tarmac’s commitment to developing rubberised asphalt provides an excellent opportunity,” he added.