The first major UK trial of a new surface mix of asphalt containing shredded rubber from old tyres has given the go-ahead to rolling it out across Britain. Extensive grip and skid resistance testing on a short stretch of the busy A90 dual-carriageway between Perth and Dundee, carrying around 35,000 vehicles a day, has also revealed a significant reduction in traffic noise of about 25 per cent. Given that around one heart attack in every 50 in European countries is caused by chronic exposure to loud traffic (WHO) this has to be good news.
Britain has at least 480,000 tonnes of old tyres to dispose of each year (European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers Association, 2009) and EU rules have banned the disposal of tyres to landfill since 2006. Life Cycle Assessment studies indicate that for every ton of scrap tyres re-used to make roads, 1.1 tons of CO2 emissions will be saved compared with the incineration of the tyres. Furthermore, experts claim that the road surface requires less maintenance and still allows for drainage, while tyre recyclers claim the technique will also save money because the new material is thinner than standard roads.
Rubber roads were first built in the 1960s in the US, where there are currently 20,000 miles of road made of recycled tyres, and they have also proved popular in China, Brazil, Spain and Germany.
photo by: Derek Harper