Fixing the future

Through trials of its crumb rubber binder across Australia, Road Maintenance aims to improve the uptake of the sustainable approach now and well into the future. Through trials of its crumb rubber binder across Australia, Road Maintenance aims to improve the uptake of the sustainable approach now and well into the future. 

Since the establishment of tyre-derived crumb rubber as a viable sustainable and performance-based material for use in road construction and maintenance, the scope for its use across Australia has gradually increased.

For nearly two-and-a-half years, crumb rubber binder from Victoria-based firm Road Maintenance has been used in a number of trials around Australia.

The first such instance was a trial with the City of Casey in Victoria near the end of 2017, where 8500 tonnes of crumb rubber asphalt, incorporating the binder, was used across a variety of road surfaces.

Similar trials of Road Maintenances’ binder was also used in crumb rubber asphalt trials for Cardinia Shire Council in Victoria and City of Mitcham in South Australia, which owner Max Fitzgerald says have been great examples of the environmentally conscious and sustainable practice in action in various applications.

“Approximately 2600 truck tyres, or 13,000 car tyres, were disposed of in the trials,” Mr. Fitzgerald says. “We’d like to thank the City of Casey, Cardinia Shire Council and City of Mitcham, for trialling our odour-free scrap rubber binder. And a special thank you to Top Coat, South East Asphalt, R & C Asphalt, Tyre Stewardship Australia and RAMS – South Australia for successfully blending and laying Road Maintenance’s scrap rubber binder asphalt onto the roads for the last 2.5 years.”

The trials demonstrated the applications of the product in different areas and to different tests, which Mr. Fitzgerald says has been a great example of the versatility and benefits of using crumb rubber in road construction and maintenance.

“Over 9000 tonnes of odourless scrap tyre asphalt has been successfully trialled as a base and top coat layer, plus one original asphalt failed area in Station Road, Tooradin. It was even used next to a primary school, in residential areas and on main roads, with no complaints about odour or performance in the trials,” he says. “Odourless scrap tyre binder allows content to reach below six per cent binder in asphalt and we’ve been able to action that.”

Mr. Fitzgerald says crumb rubber’s performance and environmental sustainability are proved internationally, giving 50 to 100 per cent more life out of roads and is highly resistant to wear and minimises rutting, tyre noise and potholing. “This was successfully laid with asphalt at 130 degrees Celsius. There is no cold joint, better skid resistance and it can be laid in thinner layers, as laid in the Centre Road trial for City of Casey.”

Similar to the application of scrap tyres in asphalt applications, Road Maintenance is also trialling the use of pyrolysis oil made from waste plastics for heating its plant and the crack sealing units, which helps reduce the environmental footprint of asphalt roads.

Mr. Fitzgerald says the product has the potential to use a lot of plastic waste and prove a new and untapped market for waste streams in road construction and maintenance operations.

As more local governments and contractors around Australia continue to build the market for crumb rubber use in road applications, Road Maintenance aims to foster that growth.

“We’re now seeking companies with expressions of interest in leasing blending plants to do rubber polymer blends in their depots using our formulas,” Mr. Fitzgerald says. “Over the next few years, all asphalt binders are going to be modified blends, and a lot of the smaller companies have to start preparing for that. We can help them in working with different formulas and help them really understand the process.”

“All new blends should be performance-based. Our roads are too important.”

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