Recycled Tires to be Used in Asphalt Mixture

Doug Enright 

Since the 1960’s, recycled rubber from scrap tires have been used by the paving industry as a component of asphalt mixtures. Rubberized asphalt is an environmentally friendly, high-performance alternative to traditional paving materials.

Why Use a Rubberized Asphalt Mixture?

Cracks and potholes in asphalt are caused by traffic loads, fluctuating temperatures, and shifting materials beneath the asphalt surface. Pavements made from rubberized asphalt have shown to resist cracking better than traditional payments made from conventional asphalt mixtures. The recycled tires add a greater element of elasticity, which is the major reducer of pavement cracking.

Rubberized asphalt is proven to increase the life of the pavement, and improve safety with skid resistance, making maintenance easier and less regular. Roads paved with conventional asphalt require maintenance to be performed generally every 3-5 years. The crack-resistant properties of rubber-modified asphalt require maintenance after a much longer service life, driving maintenance costs down, and increased all-around safety.

In addition to its elasticity, longevity, safety features and cost-effective resources, rubberized asphalt is environmentally friendly. California is believed to produce more than 40 million wasted tires annually, most of which end up in landfills. A two-inch-thick paved road uses roughly 2,000 scrap tires per lane mile. Diverting waste tires from landfills or illegal disposal is a true form of “reduce, reuse, recycle,” making rubber-modified asphalt a huge promoter of the environment.

The use of rubberized asphalt has grown at a rate of about 10% annually for the past 10 years. Wider acceptance and greater education has led to more state departments of transportation and city municipalities to adopt the use of the recycled product. In 2003, the Arizona Department of Transportation began a three-year, $34 million project to resurface 115 miles of Phoenix area roadways with rubber-modified asphalt.

Until recently, recycled rubber has not been used in low-volume rubberized asphalt applications such as parking lots and driveways. Innovative technologies and a growing market demand have begun making the safer, greener, crack resistant product more feasible for smaller projects.

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