The 20th Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) survey highlights a 33 per cent increase in the number of potholes filled over the last year. However, according to the asphalt industry, even this increase barely keeps pace with the damage done to roads each year. Indeed, the asphalt industry said the money invested was “wasted”.
Despite local authorities reporting an increase in their overall maintenance budget, one in six roads in England and Wales are still classed as being in poor condition and an estimated £12.16 billion is needed to get the local road network back into reasonable condition.
The recent history of how we deal with end of life tyres has been littered with ideas, but surprisingly few real success stories. In this opinion piece, Tyre Recovery Association director, Peter Taylor OBE shares his view on the use of tyres in rubberised tarmac.
Ground rubber from scrap tyres has resilient properties that can be used to enhance the performance of construction products. For the asphalt industry, which currently depends on materials with very high embedded energy costs – polymer-modified bitumen is expensive in carbon terms both to make and to transport and store – asphalt made using bitumen modified with rubber concentrate from ground recycled tyres could therefore offer a welcome solution to greenhouse gas emissions associated with traditional asphalt manufacturing.
In the US, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) and its more than 1,550 members are urging the Environmental Protection Agency not to adopt proposed rules that will have a significant impact on the scrap recycling industry – specifically the recycling of scrap tyres.
The problem of scrap tyres (or, as ETRA prefers to call them, post-consumer tyres) is one which affects every country where tyres are sold. ETRA, the European Tyre Recycling Association, is the only European organisation devoted exclusively to tyre and rubber recycling and in July, the association held a conference in the UK to discuss the scale of the problem, assess progress and look at possible solutions. ETRA regards post-consumer tyres as a readily available and inexpensive resource rather than merely a problem and the association is keen to get this viewpoint across to the industry, governments and the public. Around 2.5 million scrap tyres arise every year in the EU, of which 61% are re-used or recycled in some form. 39% go to landfill, which will be banned shortly. The conference programme was a full one, with a variety of speakers, including representatives from enforcement and licensing agencies, trade associations and those involved in developing new processes and uses for scrap tyres. Among the solutions discussed were rubberised asphalt, rubberised sports surfaces, the emotive subject of using tyres as artificial reefs and a method of using microwaves to break down tyres into their component parts. The effective and environmental disposal of scrap tyres is a problem for all parts of the industry and one which will become even more acute when landfilling of tyres is banned in a few years.