London’s first recycled rubber road is laid in Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlets has become the first London borough to rubber stamp a road made partly from old recycled tyres that would once have been destined for a landfill site.

Working with Tarmac, the company behind the innovative technology, Tower Hamlets council has approved a new type of surface that uses rubber crumb from the 40 million waste tyres produced every year mixed into asphalt.

Tower Hamlets council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and has committed to working towards becoming a carbon neutral organisation by 2025.

Work recently began on Canrobert Street in Bethnal Green where approximately 100 recycled tyres were mixed into a new road surface laid by council contractors JB Riney.

John Biggs, mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “It’s great to see innovative solutions to repurposing waste that could otherwise go to landfill or incineration. We were one of the first councils to declare a climate emergency and we’re keen to explore all ideas that can reduce our impact on the environment. This product will provide a safe surface with less emissions and disruption during the laying process. We want residents and businesses to think about how they can reduce their carbon footprint so it’s important we do our bit too.”

The introduction in Bethnal Green follows a successful trial on the M1 motorway. The surface is laid at a lower temperature which means roads can be re-opened quicker with up to 10% less carbon dioxide emissions, improved site safety, reduced fumes and less risk of burns to workers.

Brian Kent, national technical director at Tarmac, said: “Used tyres remain a significant and overlooked waste stream and our new, innovative rubber modified asphalts offer a more sustainable option for local roads. It’s fantastic to see the London Borough of Tower Hamlets taking the lead in the capital and delivering environmental savings by leveraging this new technology and unlocking the benefits of a circular economic approach.”

Rubber modified asphalts incorporate the rubber from one tyre per tonne of asphalt, giving the potential to recycle about 330 tyres per kilometre of road, depending on layer thickness.

The first sites in Coventry to use rubber modified 10mm SMA were laid in May and July 2018, followed by a rubber modified 6mm SMA in August 2018.

Further rubber modified SMA has been laid in 2019. In May 2019 a Highways England funded trial of rubber modified asphalt was undertaken on a southbound section of the M1 near Leicester, between junctions 23 to 22.

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