Six local councils in South Australia have agreed to join a trial that will divert the equivalent of 3,400 passenger tyres from landfill to make crumbed rubber mix for road surfaces and help create a circular economy.
The project, announced this week at the ALGA National Local Roads and Transport Congress in Hahndorf, involves the cities of Mitcham, Port Adelaide Enfield, Campbelltown, West Torrens, Onkaparinga and Salisbury.
Crumbed rubber has been used in road resurfacing overseas in places like California for decades, but is still uncommon in Australia, despite Australians generating about 56 million used tyres each year.
“This trial is the largest one of its type conducted so far in Australia,” said Lina Goodman, CEO of Tyre Stewardship Australia, a body created by the tyre industry to develop markets for end-of-life tyres.
“These councils are playing a vital role in finding modern and environmentally sound solutions to a problematic waste problem.
“South Australian Councils are leading the way by embracing this landmark opportunity in the development of the circular economy in Australia.”
City of Mitcham, for example, has previously collaborated with Tyre Stewarship Australia on a 355m crumbed rubber project on a suburban road, and also on a permeable pavement pilot that has increased the amount of rainwater going to trees in a suburban park’s carpark.
“We have shown through our trial that it improves the performance of roads due to less cracking and it increases the life span,” City of Mitcham Principal Engineer, Russell King said.
The trial with six councils builds on what was learned during the Mitcham trial and will use two adjacent road sections.
One 200m section will use a high grade mix of crumbed rubber, the other with plain asphalt.
The roads will be tested over two years for resistance to rutting, cracking and moisture damage.
Topcoat Asphalt will lay the surfaces, while the South Australian Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure will give technical advice and is interested in the trial results.
“We already know crumb rubber from old tyres works well and even out-performs regular asphalt in other countries,” said Topcoat Technical Manager, Rod McArthur.
“This trial is about proving that the product works just as well here in South Australia, using the tried and tested Californian technology, without having to reinvent the wheel.”
Tyre Stewardship Australia’s Senior Strategy Manager, Liam O’Keefe, told the ALGA roads congress that his organisation is keen to partner with more local councils, who can apply for funding for a range of projects involved used tyres.