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Tarmac launch innovative rubberized asphalt

Asphalt from used rubber tyres

Company expands asphalt range with new product that uses rubber from old tyres

TARMAC have developed a new rubberized asphalt using recycled waste tyres. The business is the first in the UK to develop a new asphalt technology capable of recycling end-of-life tyres (ELTs) into roads. 

With 40 million waste tyres produced every year in the UK, the company has created an innovative asphalt mix using granulated rubber.

Tarmac estimate that it will be possible to recycle and reuse up to 750 waste tyres for every kilometre of highway surfaced with the new material, which would help to reduce around 120,000 tonnes of rubber waste exported from the UK annually.

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. It also builds on Tarmac’s reuse of waste tyres to power their cement kilns and their commitment as a net user of waste materials. 

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.

‘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.’

As part of recent trials of the new material, Tarmac supplied asphalt with rubber in Coventry. Rob Little, senior engineer, highways technical for Coventry City Council, commented: ‘We are delighted with the rubberized 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 ELTs to other countries. 

Peter Taylor, secretary general of the Tyre Recovery Association, added: ‘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 rubberized asphalt provides an excellent opportunity to achieve this and deliver environmental savings for this under-used waste stream.’

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