2019 Roads Congress Profiles – Recycled roads and circular economy

Image shows Tyre Stewardship Australia CEO Lina Goodman speaking at a lectern, beside a banner.

Some councils want to better engage with Australia’s circular economy to save them money and ease pressures on their material collection services.

This is particularly the case with old rubber tyres, some 56 million of which are discarded in Australia every year.

Steering some of those tyres away from landfill and into road resurfacing will be explored at the National Local Roads and Transport Congress in November in a session on the circular economy featuring representatives from Tyre Stewardship Australia, the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB), and engineering firm Downer.

Tyre Stewardship Australia and the ARRB are collaborating on a trial of crumbed rubber mix along a busy Melbourne road.

While rubber is routinely used in rural road surfacing in Victoria, it hasn’t been done at scale in a metropolitan area, nor using a variety of asphalt mixes.

“This trial is a landmark opportunity in the development of the circular economy in Australia,” Tyre Stewardship Australia CEO, Lina Goodman, pictured above, said

The trial of multiple rubber mixes will be conducted along 1.5km of East Boundary Road in Melbourne’s southeast suburb of East Bentleigh.

“ARRB is proud to be a supporting partner of this project which is about finding sustainable solutions to Australia’s tyre problem,” its Senior Professional Leader, Melissa Lyons, said.

Ms Lyons was a co-author of the ARRB’s July 2019 review of studies about using passenger vehicle tyres in bitumen in Australia.

Among its findings were that no Australian jurisdiction specifies the types of tyre or synethic rubber in their roadworks specifications, unlike the US states of Florida and California.

“The main current limitation for manufacturing passenger vehicle tyre crumb rubber is economic, as specific infrastructure would be required to efficiently process the tyre,” the review said.

“However, the required infrastructure can be put in place once the demand for passenger vehicle tyre crumb rubber is high enough to justify the required investment.”

A final report on the East Bentleigh trial is due by mid-2022.

Tyre Stewardship Australia – which was created by the tyre industry including manufacturers and recyclers – is charged with creating viable markets for end-of-life tyres.

Other road surfacing projects with which it has been involved include one in the City of Mitcham (SA) that uses a permeable pavement made from 50 percent recycled tyres.

That trial, which featured the equivalent of 500 passenger tyres, has goals including testing if the paving material can harvest water for nearby trees, and increasing groundwater recharge.