A new sustainable road surface material integrating waste tyres is set to be trialled along a stretch of motorway in the UK.
The new asphalt mix, developed by sustainable road surface and building materials firm Tarmac, has been laid on a section of the M1’s southbound carriageway near Leicester with funding support from Highways England; with the goal of determining the viability of the surface mix for wider implementation. Each kilometre of road contains up to 750 waste tyres.
Corporate Group Leader at Highways England Martin Bolt, who oversees innovation in the Midlands, said: “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 tyres 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.”
The UK produces around 40 million waste tyres every year and exports around 500,000 annually to be disposed of in landfill sites. As EU regulations prohibit the landfill disposal of tyres within Member States, waste tyre exports are sent primarily to the Middle East and Asia: one landfill site in Kuwait now holds more than seven million tyres and is visible from space. Tarmac aims to reduce the number of tyres sent abroad to landfills through wider deployment of its new sustainable road surface, which is produced by adding granulated rubber from used tyres to an asphalt blend.
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 tyres offer a significant opportunity to unlock the benefits of a circular economy. There has been a very positive response to our rubberised 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.”