Sustainable construction firm Tarmac has launched a rubberised asphalt that uses recycled tyres, which it says could help tackle the 40 million waste tyres created every year in the UK.
The US already uses rubber in its roads, and Tarmac has been supplying Coventry City Council with asphalt containing recycled tyres in a trial which has proved successful.
Every year 120,000 tonnes of rubber waste is exported, which could be used in UK roads. Tarmac estimates that 750 waste tyres could be reused for every kilometre of surfaced highway.
Tyre Recovery Association secretary general Peter Taylor OBE said: “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. Tarmac’s commitment to developing rubberised asphalt provides an excellent opportunity to achieve this and deliver environmental savings for this under-used waste stream.”
Tarmac technical director Brian Kent said: “While plastic recycling has attracted media headlines, used tyres remain a significant and overlooked waste stream. Our innovative rubber-modified asphalts offer a more sustainable option for industry and the environment.
“Rubber is used in asphalt across the US, but in the UK there is a lack of industrial infrastructure necessary for 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 a circular economic approach.”
Rob Little, Coventry council’s senior engineer, highways technical, said the council hoped to use more of the recycled material, adding: “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.”