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Highways England trialling rubberised roads

Highways England has laid the surface of a section of the M1 with a new asphalt compound containing rubber from disused tyres

Highways England rubber road

Highways England is trialling rubberised roads in an effort to simultaneously save money and help the environment.

The Government-owned public body responsible for maintaining the UK’s Strategic Road Network of motorways and major A roads has laid a section of the southbound M1 between Junctions 23 and 22 with a new asphalt compound partially made up of rubber from disused tyres.

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£201million pothole repair fund announced by government

The compound has been developed by sustainable building materials company Tarmac and is intended to offer both environmental and economic benefits. Around 40 million waste tyres are produced every year in the UK, over 500,000 of which are shipped out of the country to go to landfill.

Due to EU rules prohibiting tyres being used in landfill, these tyres usually end up in Asia and the Middle East, with seven million now filling one site in Kuwait that has become known as the ‘tyre graveyard’.

Tarmac estimates that around 750 waste tyres could be used in every kilometre of road surfaced with its new compound, depending on thickness. The trial on the M1 will test how durable the compound is on a busy public road.

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Martin Bolt, who oversees innovations projects for Highways England in the Midlands, commented: “Highways England is committed to investing in innovation to help us meet the economic, environmental and efficiency challenges we face in our changing world and also to delivering environment improvements as we strive to ensure our road network works more harmoniously with its surroundings.

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“This trial could well be the first step to rapidly reducing the number of tyres piling up in the UK and beyond. The economic and environmental potential of this new asphalt is significant and we are delighted to be working with Tarmac in this trial.”

Paul Fleetham, managing director of Tarmac, added: “Technical innovation has a key role to play in improving the environmental performance of our roads. As a previously overlooked waste stream, used tyres offer a significant opportunity to unlock the benefits of a circular economy.

“There has been a very positive response to our rubberised asphalt since the first local authority trial was announced in May and we’re very pleased to be working with Highways England to explore its potential to support the sustainability of the strategic road network.”

Do you think a rubberised road network will solve the UK's pothole problem? Let us know in the comments below...

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