This summer, England started trials of the new rubberized asphalt developed from a mix that includes recycled tires. The asphalt mix is produced by a British company Tarmac.

According to Tarmac, a new road surface using recycled tires is on trial on the M1 motorway by Highways England. If successful, it is hoped that this new method will take a huge step towards tackling the millions of end-of-life tires piling up every year.

Tarmac says that a section of road between junctions 23 to 22 on the southbound carriageway of the M1 near Leicester, England, has been laid with the new surface which has been developed by its asphalt division. Highways England is funding trials into the new asphalt mix to see if this environmentally-sound innovation could be the way forward for future road surfaces.

Using waste tires in roads has both economic and environmental benefits. Some 40 million waste tires are produced every year in the UK and over 500,000 end-of-life tires are shipped out of the UK each year to be landfilled. EU rules ban the disposal of tires in landfill sites. Therefore end-of-life tires generally go to the Middle East and Asia. There are over seven million tires filling one Kuwaiti landfill site which is so vast that the ‘tire graveyard’ is now visible from space.

According to Tarmac, the company is believed to be the first business in the UK to have developed an asphalt technology which recycles tires by adding granulated rubber to the mix. It is estimated by Tarmac that up to 750 waste tires could be used in every kilometer of road surfaced with the new material, depending on the thickness of the road.

The trial on the M1 will test the effective durability of the road surface on a highly trafficked network. Corporate Group Leader Martin Bolt, who oversees innovations projects for Highways England in the Midlands, commented:

“Highways England is committed to investing in innovation to help us meet the economic, environmental and efficiency challenges we face in our changing world and also to delivering environment improvements as we strive to ensure our road network works more harmoniously with its surroundings.

“This trial could well be the first step to rapidly reducing the number of tires piling up in the UK and beyond. The economic and environmental potential of this new asphalt is significant and we are delighted to be working with Tarmac in this trial.”

Paul Fleetham, managing director of Tarmac, said:

“Technical innovation has a key role to play in improving the environmental performance of our roads. As a previously overlooked waste stream, used tires offer a significant opportunity to unlock the benefits of a circular economy.

“There has been a very positive response to our rubberized asphalt since the first local authority trial was announced in May and we’re very pleased to be working with Highways England to explore its potential to support the sustainability of the strategic road network.”

Article by Tarmac.