Asphalt is one heck of material. Its versatility, practicality, and ease-of-use have had asphalt in use by people for centuries, and that same asphalt that past generations used is still in use today. How? Because not only does asphalt hold the preceding qualities, it is also extreme recyclable.

Recycling asphalt is so important that Kentucky recently made grants available to Kentucky counties to utilize recycled tires and their asphalt contents for local projects, Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles G. Snavely announced recently.

The counties can request the grants for either recycled tires and asphalt meant for use as chip-seal or recycled tires and asphalt meant for thin asphalt overlay applications. Counties can request can apply for the funding to be granted 24,000 yards of the chip-seal, or 12,000 yards of the asphalt overlay. The two types of asphalt can be utilized for several different purposes including roadway and parking lot repair, maintenance, and construction.

Applicants who are allowed the grants must complete an equivalent asphalt project utilizing standard asphalt funded by themselves.

The grants are not just a gift to Kentucky counties, but also an ongoing test to compare standard asphalt against asphalt that utilizes recycled tire materials. The recycled tire asphalt differs from standard asphalt in that crumb derived from shredded rubber tires is added to the mix instead of another standard substrate like gravel.

Current research points to numerous benefits to utilizing recycled tires in asphalt mixes. It can reduce overall asphalt cost, help recycle thousands of pounds of old tires, increase road life, provide skid protection, and reduce road noise. Many recycled-tire modified asphalt proponents believe the tire-fortified version is better than the “real” thing.

The funding for the grant comes from the Kentucky Waste Tire Trust Fund, which receives $1 for every new tire sold in the state of Kentucky. The fund works to recycle and reuse old tires and develop markets for those recycled materials and also hosts waste tire collection events, waste tire cleanup, and grants for counties to manage their waste tires.

Kentucky’s experiment could have positive results not only for the state but for the entire country.