Tasmania will invest US$2.96 million to set up a crumbing plant to increase the use of rubber recycled from truck tyres in road resurfacing.
The four-year investment by the Tasmanian government will enable the Australian island state, 240 km south of the Australian mainland, to perform the entire tyre recycling process within the state. Currently, the crumbing process is being done at Fulton Hogan’s plant in Launceston in Victoria state on the mainland while only the blending with bitumen is done within Tasmania, according to media reports.
Fulton hogan is a large infrastructure construction, roadworks and aggregate supplier based in New Zealand and also active across Australasia.
Each year, 1.3 million tyres reach their end-of-life in Tasmania and most end up in landfill or are stockpiled for other uses in their depleted state. Some are illegally dumped. A statement by the premier of Tasmania said the state has already used some crumb this year on several resurfacing sites in the north, including on the Bass, East Tamar and West Tamar highways.
“The Tasmanian Liberal government will continue to work with industry to look for opportunities to use crumb rubber in road resurfacing,” noted the statement.
The announcement comes after the launch in December 2020 of a demonstration crumb rubber project in Tasmania. Fulton Hogan and Tyre Stewardship Australia said they would work together to ensure over 1,200 end-of-life truck tyres were mixed with the equivalent of 40,000 recycled glass bottles to produce crumb rubber asphalt, a first for Tasmania.
Meander Valley, in Tasmania’s north, was the first municipality to resurface some of its roads with asphalt containing crumb rubber. Sam Allan, Fulton Hogan’s manager for Tasmania, said at the time that the project is about using a waste item “through to an environmentally beneficial product to build infrastructure of critical value”.
Tyre Stewardship Australia reportedly provided more than $62,000 to help alleviate added costs for any new processes. Meanwhile, Fulton Hogan said it would cover the cost of the transportation and supply of a portable blending facility in order for local councils to use crumb rubber technology in spray-seal and asphalt applications.
“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,” said Allan.
Six councils across Tasmania were taking part in the demonstration project: Meander Valley, Central Highlands, Dorset, George Town, Sorell and Tasman.
“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,” said Lina Goodman, chief executive of Tyre Stewardship Australia.
She added that while more than half of Australia’s old tyres are recycled, up-cycled or processed to make other products, like crumb rubber for roads, the equivalent of 27 million car tyres are wasted every year.
Tyre Stewardship Australia recently announced that it is working with the agency Keep Victoria Beautiful to tackle the illegal dumping and stockpiling of waste tyres in local environments within Victoria state.
“With the recent export ban on whole and baled tyres, there are concerns we may see increased dumping of tyres in parks, creeks, leased factories or on private land, as the tyre industry adjusts to changes in the market and increased cost pressures exacerbated by COVID,” according to a statement from the stewardship.
Tyre Stewardship Australia was established in 2014 to implement the national Tyre Product Stewardship Scheme to reduce the environmental, health and safety impacts of the 56 million Equivalent Passenger Units (EPUs) which reach the end of their life in Australia each year. An EPU is a standard passenger car tyre. The weight of an EPU for a new standard passenger car tyre is standardised as 9.5kg and the weight of an EPU for an end-of-life standard passenger car tyre is standardised as 8kg.