Six Tasmanian councils to use crumb rubber asphalt in a first for the state

Photo by Robert Laursoo on Unsplash

A recycled crumb rubber asphalt demonstration project across local roads in Tasmania is hoped to pave the way to a more sustainable future in the state.

In a partnership between Fulton Hogan and Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) more than 1240 end-of-life truck tyres will be mixed with the equivalent of 40,000 recycled glass bottles to produce crumb rubber asphalt, a first for Tasmania.

Work has recently started in the first of six councils to be a part of the demonstration. Meander Valley in the state’s north is now laying the crumb rubber asphalt.

Fulton Hogan’s State Manager, Sam Allan, said the municipal roads built using the crumb rubber asphalt would be significantly more durable, longer lasting, quieter and safer than roads paved with conventional asphalt.

“Crumb rubber modified bitumen used as a binder for asphalt mixes for community roads is a tangible contribution to the environment through recycling used tyres, and a lower life-cycle cost of the resulting road pavement,” Allan explained.

“It’s about taking a waste stream – in this instance, used tyres – through to an environmentally beneficial product to build infrastructure of critical value.”

Other councils involved include the Central Highlands, Dorset, George Town, Sorell and Tasman.

TSA has supported the projects with more than $85,000 for additional costs relative to the installation of a conventional road.

Fulton Hogan will cover the cost of the transportation and supply of a portable blending facility, providing councils across Tasmania the opportunity to utilise crumb rubber technology in both spray-seal and asphalt applications.

TSA Chief Executive Officer Lina Goodman said although more than half of Australia’s old tyres are recycled, upcycled or processed to make other products, like crumb rubber in roads, the equivalent of 27 million car tyres are wasted every year. These often end up in landfill, stockpiles or are exported overseas.

“As a material derived from end-of-life tyres, crumb rubber boasts many environmental benefits as a recycled product – benefits that are being realised across the Australian roads and infrastructure sector.”

There is not yet a facility to blend crumb rubber binders or process tyres in Tasmania. Allan said the project would create an opportunity to help guide Council specifications to include crumb rubber binder and build an ongoing market for the product in Tasmania.

“During this trial, Fulton Hogan plans to gain more intricate knowledge of market demand which may lead to a more permanent operation for Tasmania in producing crumb rubber binder,” he said.

Goodman said with 85 per cent of roads managed by local councils and significantly more low traffic roads found nationally, local government procurement power is critical to using resources like crumb rubber, created from the millions of used tyres generated in Australia each year, to create a better performing, longer lasting Australian road network.

“With this strong link to circular economy outcomes, TSA is encouraging local councils to become an accredited participant of our National Tyre Product Stewardship Scheme. Apply online here.”

The National Scheme, implemented by TSA, helps to reduce the environmental, health and safety impacts of the 56 million tyres that reach the end of their life in Australia every year.

The voluntary scheme consists of representatives from across the tyre supply chain including retailers, manufacturers, auto-brands, recyclers and collectors.

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