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Can recycling weather the storm?

It occurred to me one morning, as I negotiated yet another new pothole on the road to work, that the damage caused to our road network by the recent inclement weather will have much longer repercussions than disrupted bin collections.

Firstly, there is the knock-on effect from damage to vehicles. The Automobile Association says that, in February alone, damage to cars from potholes cost insurers £2.85 million.

Some of the roads are so bad now you can’t really avoid giving your suspension a good bashing, so the cost is just going to grow and grow. My local council has already issued a warning that they are so inundated with claims from motorists that it is taking 12 to 16 weeks just to process the paperwork.

Of course, not all vehicles will be write-offs. The AA also points out that garages and tyre centres are dealing with countless thousands of punctured tyres, damaged tracking or broken springs which don’t justify making a claim. There will be plenty of drivers out there now that don’t even realise that the last hole they hit actually threw their tracking out. In this case, there will be many vehicles in the coming months which need tyres replaced prematurely because they have uneven wear.

I confidently predict that the national media will soon be carrying stories of woe, richly illustrated by piles of crushed and abandoned vehicles, or acres of tyre mountains. Come on recyclers and reprocessors – let’s get out there and challenge these views. Surely the industry is geared up and ready for a surge in insurance write-offs that will need dismantling? Surely we can cope with an increase in the number of tyres that are available for reprocessing and recycling a couple of months down the line? 

If you answered yes to either of the above, then get in touch with your local paper, radio or tv station and tell them the good news. Take them on the journey to show just how this potential environmental problem is being resolved and how we are turning a potential disaster into an economic good news story.

That just leaves us with the issue of all those holes that need filling. The AA estimates that there are two million potholes nationwide, which cost an average of £70 each to repair (that’s assuming they only need repairing once, mind you). Those potholes represent a major demand for aggregates, surfacing materials, etc. Are there any local authorities out there that have made the decision to specify recycled aggregates for all their road repair work? Is it feasible to use crumbed recycled tyres as a resurfacing material? If it is, we should tell someone. Then perhaps the recycling sector can benefit from all the cash that needs to be spent on improving our road infrastructure.

These aren’t just good business opportunities for the recycling sector – there are some great PR opportunities going begging too. Let’s get out there and demonstrate to people just what can be achieved through recycling and reprocessing on the grand scale. This industry has a lot to offer and it is vibrant, dynamic and entrepreneurial. It’s time to start telling the world how good you are – and that starts with good PR.

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