Council trials Australian first in waste tyre road sealing technology

crumb rubber

Ararat City Council has carried out new road sealing technology trials using waste tyres.

The innovative method uses recycled tyre rubber as both a modifier for bitumen binder and a substitute for traditional aggregates. It marks a significant advance in sustainable road construction practices and has the potential to increase the number of waste tyres being used on the rural road network by 10 times.

Council’s recent adoption of a Graded Aggregate Seal (GAS) has already demonstrated notable benefits, including improved road durability, reduced maintenance needs, and elimination of dust emissions for local landowners.

In collaboration with Inroads, a specialised bituminous pavement firm based in Wimmera, Ararat has implemented this novel approach on a 500-metre stretch of Garden Gully Road. Unlike previous methods, which mainly used crumbed rubber as a bitumen enhancer, this new technique blends waste tyre chips directly with quarry aggregates to form the road surface. Specifically, the treatment replaces 10 per cent of conventional bitumen with crumbed rubber and substitutes 25 per cent of the aggregate with 14-millimetre rubber chips. This application has used 12 tonnes of rubber crumb and chips, diverting 2000 tyres from landfill.

The tyre chips, sourced from a Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) accredited recycler in Victoria, underwent rigorous testing to ensure compatibility with hot bitumen and durability under wheel track conditions.

On its website, Ararat Council said initial tests confirmed excellent bitumen adhesion and wear resistance, when combined with virgin aggregate from Western Quarries in Ararat. Prior to application, the rubber chips were blended with precoated aggregate at the quarry’s onsite laboratory to maintain consistency.

Inroads has applied for funding from TSA to extend the sustainable road treatment to an additional two kilometres of gravel roads in 2024. This expansion will facilitate ongoing monitoring and testing, with the aim of promoting wider adoption across municipalities in Western Victoria.

“Council’s new road seal trials epitomise the efficiency and community benefit we aim for with all infrastructure improvements,” said Ararat Rural City Council Chief Executive Officer Dr Tim Harrison. “It promotes environmental stewardship by repurposing waste resources tenfold, and underscores our commitment to sustainable development.”

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