Australia Reduces CO2 with Tire Recycling
In Australia, the Gold Coast companies Austek Asphalt Production and Pearl Global developed a product known as Carbonmastic that recycles 10 tires into each metric ton of asphalt mix. They began a trial of the product on roads at Ormeau on the northern Gold Coast during the week of April 20, 2021, and Austek General Manager David Simmons said the trial was the first time a council had committed to using the environmentally innovative product.
“This product is great for council roads because it restricts reflective cracking, you can lay it thinner because it’s a stronger compound, and it’s a smoother, quieter surface,” Simmons said. “Obviously, there’s environmental benefits.”
Around the world, an estimated 1.5 billion tires are dumped each year, causing major environmental challenges including the non-biodegradable tires leaching toxins into soil and water. A staggering 56 million tires—equating to about 450,000 metric tons—are estimated to be sitting in disposal sites throughout Australia. About 14 percent of Australia’s waste tires are currently recycled into other forms; 56 percent is exported and 30 percent dumped illegally, stockpiled and choking landfills mostly owned and operated by local councils.
Simmons said the process fully recycles 100 percent of the tire. Tires are broken down to produce carbon char, reusable steel and fuel oil. Tire-derived fuel is a global growth market with the fuel increasingly being adapted as an alternative to diesel. The carbon char also developed in the process is core to the Carbonmastic asphalt product.
“Nothing gets wasted,” Simmons said. “It’s incredible really.”
He said more than 1.6 million tires would be recycled into Austek’s production processes annually, ensuring the tires would be diverted from toxic stockpiles or landfills. The Austek production plant at Yatala would replace 0.3 to 0.4 million gallons (1.3 to 1.6 million litres) of diesel with tire-derived fuel oil.
“It reduces our carbon footprint massively,” Simmons said.
Simmons said other Queensland councils including Moreton Bay, Logan, Dalby and Redlands had expressed interest in the product that’s being trialed on the Gold Coast. The council applications have come about after 180 metric tons of Carbonmastic was laid on Norwell Motorplex’s V8 Supercar racetrack between Brisbane and the Gold Coast to test and showcase the product’s improved skid resistance, reduced road noise and other safety features under motor racing conditions.
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