The Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) is committed to supporting the Victorian Government’s push to boost the amount of recycled materials used in major construction projects.
Recycled First, a recent initiative from the Victorian Government, will prioritise recycled and reused materials that meet existing standards for road and rail projects – with recycled aggregates, glass, plastic, timber, steel, ballast, crushed concrete, crushed brick, crumb rubber, reclaimed asphalt pavement and organics taking precedence over virgin materials.
According to an ARRB statement, the organisation has significant involvement in research and trials of recycled and alternative materials in road construction.
“Changes to tender processes mean projects such as the $16 billion North East Link in Melbourne may include roads made of partly discarded rubber,” the statement reads.
“ARRB’s state-of-the-art research labs in Port Melbourne offer world-class testing facilities for the use and specifications for recycled and alternative road construction materials.”
Examples of ARRB’s work in the recycled materials space include a trial of recycled crushed glass asphalt on local roads with Brimbank City Council in Melbourne’s west.
“ARRB is also involved in an important new trial – alongside Tyre Stewardship Australia and Victoria’s Department of Transport – involving using crumb rubber on East Boundary Road at Bentleigh East,” the statement reads.
According to Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan, the state’s Recycled First program brings a uniform approach to the existing ‘ad hoc’ use of recycled products on major transport infrastructure projects.
“We’re paving a greener future for Victoria’s infrastructure, turning waste into vital materials for our huge transport agenda and getting rubbish out of landfills,” Ms Allan said.
“Recycled First will boost the demand for reused materials right across our construction sector – driving innovation in sustainable materials and changing the way we think about waste products.”
The Recycled First initiative is overseen by the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority, and will include strict quality and safety standards.
Crumb rubber asphalt is being laid on a busy Melbourne road as part of a new trial funded by Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) and the Victorian Department of Transport.
While already a proven technology on country roads, the project aims to increase opportunities to use crumb rubber asphalt on highly trafficked roads.
The asphalt will be laid on a 1.4 kilometre section of East Boundary Rd in Bentleigh East, with four seperate crumb rubber mixes and two asphalt control sections. The equivalent of 1600 car tyres will be used.
The trial is in line with the Victorian Government’s Recycled First policy, which aims to increase the use of recycled materials in construction projects, TSA CEO Lina Goodman explained.
“Australia generates the equivalent of 56 million used car tyres every year. Around 30 per cent of those end up in landfill or are stockpiled,” she said.
“Finding innovative and sustainable ways of using old tyres is vital, and crumb rubber asphalt roads are the perfect solution to a waste problem.”
According to ARRB CEO Michael Caltabiano, when added to an asphalt mix, crumb tyre rubber not only assists with the reuse of waste, but adds value to the road structure.
“ARRB’s applied research findings show that crumb rubber asphalt lasts longer, performs better and delivers a better economic outcome for the community,” he said.
Lab and field testing will be conducted at regular intervals, with a final report due by mid 2022.
Logan City Council has teamed up with Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) to trial a new eco-friendly road surface.
The surface is a combination of old tyres and reclaimed asphalt, and will be installed on Lagoon Road, Carbrook over the next month.
TSA has committed $150,000 to the trial and additional lab testing, which aims to prove the new surface will be as good as, or better than, standard road sealing.
Logan City Council Road Water Infrastructure Director Daryl Ross said council is always looking at innovative ways to deliver better roads.
“Council wants to build a road network that is suitable for our growing region,” he said.
“This partnership with TSA aims to enhance road quality for users in a cost-effective way.”
According to TSA CEO Lina Goodman, the trial is about creating a recycled road product that saves money, while delivering a safe and reliable product.
“It also has a huge environmental benefit to the community because it is using recycled tyres,” she said.
Crumb rubber is produced by reducing scrap tyres down to their basic materials and removing steel and fibre, along with any other contaminants such as dust, glass or rock. Reclaimed asphalt consists of old, damaged pavement materials milled and crushed into a new mixture.
According to a TSA statement, Australia generated the equivalent of 56 million used car tyres in the last financial year.
“Eighty-nine percent of them were recovered for reuse or processed into tyre derived products. The rest ended up in landfill or were stockpiled,” the statement reads.
“In Queensland, the equivalent of 12.7 million car tyres were generated with a similar recovery rate of 69 per cent. Around 14 per cent of the recovered tyres were locally recycled into crumb rubber and granules.”
The trial will begin in May, with initial results expected in August. Queensland civil infrastructure firm Fulton Hogan will construct the road.
A critical first step to accelerating off-the-road tyre resource recovery has been completed, with the release of a new report commissioned by Tyre Stewardship Australia.
While the Australian tyre recycling conversation has traditionally focused on passenger and truck tyres, the disposal and recycling of off-the-road (OTR) tyres is largely uncharted territory.
OTR disposal and recycling is particularly challenging in the mining sector, where their size, construction and remote location makes material processing onerous.
To get an accurate picture of OTR, Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) engaged Randell Environmental Consulting for a research project. Working with Brock Baker Environmental consulting, the firms completed an analysis of the consumption and fate of OTR tyres.
The analysis was borne from the recommendations of a previous report that same year which identified the need to better understand OTR tyre consumption and fate.
This was given the estimated recovery rate in 2018-19 was a mere 11 per cent, compared to 89 per cent recovery within the passenger and truck sector. The remaining 89 per cent of OTR tyres were not recovered, with an assumed 81 per cent disposed onsite at mining, farming or similar sites.
The report covers the agriculture, aviation, construction, manufacturing and trade and mining sectors. In breaking down the findings, the mining sector had the highest OTR generation in 2018-19 at 68,000 (58 per cent), followed by agriculture at 31,400 (27 per cent) and the other sectors. Combining all the sectors collectively, the five-year average for OTR generation is around 119,000.
Importantly, the report is an entry point to facilitate more informed discussions and does not look to provide the answers to improved used mining tyre recovery.
Lina Goodman, TSA CEO, says stakeholder interviews and visits will inform further information-gathering.
“OTR tyres have been left off the discourse for a while. This is largelybecause the opportunities to manage them from a resource recovery perspective haven’t been there, or were limited. We’re now starting to see that change,” Lina says.
“While OTR research has traditionally focused on the mining sector, this report tells us there are other parts of OTR that are just as important like agriculture and construction.
“What’s significant is they may be a little bit simpler to manage than the large earthmoving tyres on mining sites.”
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE TYRES?
Australia’s used OTR tyres are subject to a range of different fates possible, including retreading for reuse, civil engineering, turned into processed rubber products, pyrolysis, stockpiles, landfill and exported overseas.
The report’s authors consulted with state and territory regulators and the used tyre recycling industry to understand the fate of these tyres.
Around 93 per cent of used OTR tyres within the mining sector, or 63,300 tonnes, went to onsite disposal.
Industry consultation finds that while repair of large mining tyres is a well-established practice, retreading of OTRs is not practised in Australia except in aviation, where retreading is a normal practice.
Civil engineering is not a significant fate either, with an uptake of around 1200 tonnes of used OTR tyres used in the construction of retaining walls or similar.
Notably, illegal stockpiling, excluding onsite disposal of OTRs was not common in 2018-19, with only 2300 tonnes. Likewise landfilling is unlikely (at 4000 tonnes) and pyrolysis and crumb, granules and buffing is rare.
An estimated 14,400 tonnes of used OTR tyres were exported overseas for processing in 2018-19, with 2500 tonnes of this from the aviation sector. The remaining 12,000 tonnes is believed to be from the construction and manufacturing sectors and sectioned into manageable sized pieces for export.
FUTURE AND EXISTING PRACTICES
After consultation with key mining jurisdictions (WA, QLD, NSW and NT), environment protection agencies and the waste industry, the report highlighted the various storage practices which differ from state to state.
Onsite disposal has been the historical practice as there hasn’t been alternatives. The report points out that mining companies should expect the current practice to cease.
A key point is that only a few of Australia’s used tyre processors are currently able to receive large mining OTR tyres.
Moreover, the report estimates the collection cost of large mining tyres can fall anywhere between $300 to $770 per tonne, with indicative processing per tonne a further $300 to $800 per tonne depending on the recovery outcomes.
All jurisdictions consulted allowed onsite tyre disposal but the requirements were nuanced.
For example, WA permits used mining tyres to be disposed onsite in designated areas defined in the mining site environmental licence. Conversely, Queensland had no limits on quantities or location for onsite storage and disposal, but specific projects had their own requirements. Consultation with EPA NSW staff found that mining tyres were allowed by EPA to be stored and disposed onsite with no limits on quantities or location.
QLD, NSW and WA are all reviewing the current practise of allowing onsite disposal and the QLD Government has raised the issue with the Minerals Council of Australia.
Other areas such as converting mining OTRs into crumbed rubber and steel or tyre-derived fuel are technically feasible, but energy intensive.
Recovery by pyrolysis remains an emerging option, with several sites in Australia targeting used mining tyres as a primary feedstock. This includes the Pearl Global facility and Tytec Recycling as examples which are all based in Queensland.
“The good news is there is a lot of interest from organisations to invest in providing solutions for the sector,” Lina says.
As for the critical next steps? An OTR working group is already underway comprising the earthmoving sector, tyre companies and government.
To improve Australian OTR recovery, the report proposes a range of options to consider. This covers continued collaborative discussions via the working group and OTR manufacturers contributing to the scheme with an aim of expediting the solutions.
Additionally, State and Federal Government intervention is also proposed with a regulatory framework to support these activities.
The framework should work in tandem with OTR sector moving towards the cessation of onsite disposal in all jurisdictions. Recyclers could then support that by developing onshore energy markets for tyre-derived fuel recovery.
Lina says all of these factors, in addition to a roadmap coming in 2020 from the working group, will be critical to achieving change.
Lina Goodman, Tyre Stewardship Australia CEO, speaks with Waste Management Review about its world-first foreign end market verification program that will significantly increase waste tyre supply chain visibility in local and international markets.
When Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) was formed in 2014, its initial guidelines called for market development activities to focus on early stage research and development.
One year later, TSA launched its key investment mechanism, the Tyre Stewardship Research Fund.
In an ever-evolving space, the fund has to date directed $4.9 million to 34 research and development projects.
As TSA’s goal is to reduce the environmental, health and safety impacts of the 56 million equivalent passenger units generated annually, it’s an agenda the voluntary product stewardship scheme does not take lightly.
With research and development into tyre-derived product well and truly proven, TSA needed to change tack, enhancing its strategic focus as it underwent Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reauthorisation.
Last year, it broadened the original guidelines of its Tyre Stewardship Scheme, allowing it to drive a more immediate consumption of Australian generated tyre-derived product.
In doing so, TSA launched a demonstration and infrastructure stream, which proved to revolutionise its existing remit through practical outcomes, approving new products consuming almost a million tyres per year.
The stream ensures TSA can support an array of sectors, including in roads, advanced manufacturing, civil infrastructure, rail, building construction and more.
It generated an additional $3.2 million in new sales for the Australian recycling market annually, but importantly led to critical sustainable outcomes.
One of these many projects was the announcement of a test of new mixes of crumb rubber asphalt on a 335-metre stretch of road in the South Australian City of Mitcham.
In another innovative initiative, the Victorian Department of Transport is now conducting the first large-scale crumb rubber asphalt trial on an arterial road, in a two-year trial with the Australian Road Research Board.
To support TSA’s next evolution, TSA also welcomed a new CEO in Lina Goodman, who brings extensive experience in delivering commercial and environmental outcomes.
Lina’s breadth of experience comes as a paradigm shift is occurring in the waste sector, with increased commitments from federal, state, territory and local governments to procure recycled materials, including in major road projects.
She joined TSA in January 2019 after a long career in sustainability including roles at VISY, Honeywell and TIC Group.
To that end, she tells Waste Management Review auditing and verifying downstream international venders is one of TSA’s current focuses.
“With a significant volume of Australian end-of-life tyres exported for processing in foreign end markets, verifying environmentally sustainable and ethical management of exported tyres is central to the integrity of the Tyre Stewardship Scheme,” Lina says.
In 2018/19, Australia produced 450,569 tonnes of tyre waste. Over this time, approximately 43 per cent of all end-of-life tyres were exported as either casings, tyre-derived fuel shred, baled whole, or off-the-road tyres exported for crumbing, with the largest portion being shred at 29 per cent.
Given the scale of exports and well-known consequences of unsustainable management, TSA has developed a world-first foreign end market verification program for end-of-life tyres.
Despite an international ban on whole baled tyres in the works, verifications of final destinations is paramount, as tyre products are still sent offshore for further processing.
“We are taking new steps and are a lot more agile, dynamic and creative about how we want to function in the industry and wider marketplace. I like to call it next generation TSA,” Lina says.
“Our aim is to support initiatives that bring together strong partnerships across the supply chain, crossing research institutions and industry partners, to demonstrate both the technical and financial viability of products.”
In 2019, TSA engaged third-party quality assurance company Intertek to develop a platform and process to audit downstream vendor behaviour. According to Lina, the program will verify sustainable outcomes, ensure exporting processor accountability and educate operators both domestically and offshore.
“Intertek audits the sites based on a set of criteria including modern slavery, occupational health and safety, technology and hub and spoke,” Lina says.
“In terms of technology, auditors assess whether the technology is fit for purpose, and with hub and spoke they ensure the material is being processed at the collection site and not transferred to other unverified locations.”
During the first round of audits, there were some issues to work through. One of these saw Intertek identify staff working inside buildings that were locked from the outside, which created a fire hazard.
“We also came across sites engaged in environmentally unsound practices, and some that wouldn’t allow our auditor to enter,” Lina says.
“In that instance, the auditor took photos around the perimeter of the site and spoke to people living and working in the area – it’s quite an investigative process.”
Under the verification program, for foreign end-markets to accept material from TSA accredited participants, they too require will TSA verification.
To receive verification, Lina says operators first run through an education program to understand TSA’s expectations. From there, operators conduct self-assessment questionnaires, providing photographs and procedural details.
“Intertek and TSA will then verify that information, and if we identify any red flags, we will send an auditor to the site,” Lina says.
“The whole idea is to ensure overseas operators are not causing any environmental or social harm. That’s the bottom line.”
According to Lina, TSA has recently conducted a number of audits in Malaysia and India, with many ticking all the relevant boxes.
“The program enables us to ensure the material is being recycled in an appropriate manner, and also guarantees that Australian recyclers are informed about where they are sending their material,” she says.
“We need greater overall visibility of the reverse supply chain of waste tyres. We can’t really be sure that materials are being appropriately managed if we don’t have them verified by a third-party organisation.”
In addition to the downstream verification process, Lina says TSA is enhancing its international relationships through associations with groups such as the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG).
The IRSG is an inter-governmental organisation comprising rubber producing and consuming stakeholders, with 36 member countries and over 100 members covering the entire natural and synthetic rubber value chain.
“The IRSG has traditionally worked within the new tyre and rubber segment of the market,” Lina says.
“However, they recently recognised the need to include sustainability and end-of-life tyres into their discourse.”
As part of the partnership, TSA is hoping to join the IRSG’s sustainability committee, which Lina says will help facilitate connections with international governments.
“Joining the IRSG will create a direct line to governments in places that currently receive our material, such as Cameroon and India,” Lina says.
To facilitate greater market transparency, TSA is also working on a new suitable outcomes indicator, which Lina says models the good, better and best of tyre recycling.
“One recycler is not the same as another recycler, there are various levels of measurable environmental outcomes,” she says.
Lina says TSA has begun identifying its participants against good, better and best outcomes, with recyclers judged on process, and retailers judged on their choice of recycler.
“We have thousands of consumers who visit our green tyres website and want to do the right thing for end-of-life tyres. They ask, who can I buy tyres from? Who provides sustainable outcomes?” Lina explains.
“We really need to shine a light on organisations that have invested locally and are making an effort to transform tyres into products for local use, and I think the sustainable outcomes indicator will help that.”
EXPORT BAN AND THE PSA
The recent Meeting of Environment Minister’s confirmed a phased approach timeline for the ban on waste exports, as announced by the Australian Council of Government’s (COAG) earlier this year.
All whole tyres, including baled tyres, will be banned from export by December 2021. While Lina says whole tyres represent only a small percentage of what is exported, TSA is supportive of government putting regulatory levers in place.
“Of the 223,000 tonnes of end-of-life tyres recovered in 2018/19, 84 per cent was exported and 16 per cent remained in Australia for use within local applications. Of the volume exported, 25 per cent was whole-baled tyres and 68 per cent was exported as shred,” she says.
“That said, the ban has led to increased conversation locally about investment in new facilities and upgrades, and because of the ban, the market conditions are now right.”
Lina adds however that for the ban to really change the state of end-of-life tyre processing, it needs to come hand in hand with a strengthened Product Stewardship Act.
“It’s wonderful to have the COAG statement, but we need the act reviewed to provide us with more opportunity for market development and to keep all tyre importers accountable for the products they bring into the country, not just a select few,” she says.
“We are a voluntary scheme – we have eight tyre importers now contributing to the levy and one automotive brand, but we really need all of them participating.”
While questions remain over the long-awaited Product Stewardship Act review’s outcomes, Lina says she is heartened by the progress made by TSA over the past 12 months.
“If the Product Stewardship Act review can address the issue of free riders, or as I have heard them to referred to as “environmental pirates”, we will have more funds to redirect to organisations that want to address end-of-life tyres commercially,” she says.
“That said, there is already a whole range of support programs in place. We are excited by the opportunities that will arise from the export ban and our market development strategy, which is already delivering significant outcomes. The next generation of TSA is looking bright.”
At least six South Australian councils have agreed to take part in a trial using crumb rubber derived from end-of-life truck tyres.
With funding from Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), a special gap graded asphalt modified with crumb rubber will replace regular asphalt on a number of roads.
The trial involves TSA, Topcoat Asphalt and the cities of Mitcham, Port Adelaide Enfield, Campbelltown, West Torrens, Onkaparinga and Salisbury. The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure will provide technical advice.
TSA CEO Lina Goodman said the trial is the largest of its type conducted in Australia.
“These councils are playing a vital role in finding modern and environmentally sound solutions to a problematic waste problem,” Ms Goodman said.
“South Australian councils are leading the way by embracing this landmark opportunity in the development of the circular economy in Australia.”
According to a TSA statement, the equivalent of 29 million passenger tyres are up-cycled, recycled or processed locally for productive uses such as roads, playgrounds, polymers and tyre-derived fuels each year.
“But, over 27 million passenger tyres in Australia are not being recycled. These often end up in landfill, stockpiles or are exported overseas,” the statement reads.
The trial will use the equivalent of roughly 3400 passenger vehicle tyres or more than 20,000 kilograms of crumb rubber. Each of the six sites will use what equates to 566 passenger tyres.
Topcoat Asphalt will mix the crumb rubber into a special high-grade mix, which according to the statement, has a high rubber ratio.
“A similar trial was conducted earlier this year on a small section of road in the City of Mitcham which is so far showing positive results,” the statement reads.
“However, this larger trial will use a higher proportion of crumb rubber.”
Each trial site will consist of two adjacent road sections. One 200 metre section will contain the high- grade mix and the other will be normal asphalt.
The roads will be tested for resistance to rutting, susceptibility to cracking and moisture damage over a minimum of two years.
TopCoat Asphalt Technical Manager Rod McArthur said testing in other countries shows crumb rubber from old tyres works well, or even outperforms, regular asphalt.
“This trial is about proving that the product works just as well here in South Australia, using the tried and tested Californian technology, without having to reinvent the wheel,” Mr McArthur said.
City of Mitcham Principal Engineer Russel King said he believes more councils and other levels of government should be using crumb rubber technology in their roads.
“We have shown through our trial that it improves the performance of roads due to less cracking and it increases the life span,” Mr King said.
Ms Goodman said using crumb rubber is a win-win for the rate payer and the environment.
“It’s time we saw old tyres as a valuable product that can be used to make roads last longer all around Australia,” Ms Goodman said.
“The recent COAG announcement banning the export of old tyres is another reason governments should embrace this technology.”
A further six local government authorities have received Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) accreditation, after using tyre-derived raw materials in infrastructure projects.
The six new local governments are Burdekin Shire Council (QLD), Campbelltown City Council (SA), Launceston Shire Council (TAS), Paroo Shire Council (QLD), Prospect City Council (SA) and Upper Hunter Shire (NSW).
TSA CEO Lina Goodman said having local authorities on board was a vital step towards ensuring the sustainable management of old tyres.
Ms Goodman also noted having more councils on board would help drive the commercial viability of developing new and improved tyre-derived products.
“Along with transport companies, local governments deploy significant fleets of vehicles,” Ms Goodman said.
“Ensuring that the tyre needs of those fleets are catered for only by entities committed to responsible end-of-life tyre management can make a significant impact on sustainable outcomes for the over 56 million end-of-life tyres Australia generates every year.”
According to Ms Goodman, all newly TSA accredited councils will be closely watching crumbed-rubber asphalt trials in South Australia’s City of Mitcham, with a view off specifying the use of similar surfaces for their future road maintenance and enhancement projects.
“Crumbed-rubber asphalt has been in extensive use overseas, in climatic conditions similar to Australia, with long term use in California, Arizona and South Africa delivering excellent road performance results and highly desirable sustainability outcomes,” Ms Goodman said.
“The local road trial will be looking at a range of performance factors, such as cracking, rutting, moisture retention and general durability.”
Ms Goodman said all local authorities have the opportunity to use recycled tyre-derived materials in urban infrastructure, through both well-established applications and rapidly emerging new products.
“Existing uses of tyre derived material, for applications such as providing soft fall surfaces on playgrounds, are being added to by innovations such as erosion protection wall systems in waterways, noise barriers along roads and permeable pavements for carparks, footpaths and walking tracks,” Ms Goodman said.
“A major focus for the development of new materials is the continual improvement and tailoring of crumbed-rubber asphalt used in roads.”
A specific warm mix of dense-graded crumb rubber modified asphalt was used on the trial, which has been laboratory tested and found to be suitable for use in challenging underlying soil conditions, such as reactive clay.
The test will focus on a range of performance factors including cracking, rutting, moisture retention and general durability. The results of the test are expected to increase the specification of such roads across Australia.
If successful, the trail aims to contribute to doubling the use of recycled tyre rubber in Australia’s roads, leading to an increase in the percentage of annual used tyres consumed from around five per cent to 10 per cent.
Australia generates around 56 million end-of-life tyres each year, however only around 10 per cent of that volume is recycled domestically in all uses. Crumbed rubber asphalt and rubberised road surface spray seals can provide a potentially benefit of increasing recycling rates and improving roads.
City of Mitcham Mayor Heather Holmes-Ross said there was not only a sustainability dividend, as the asphalt will also have the potential to directly lower maintenance costs as it is less prone to cracking and rutting.
“We are trialling the crumb rubber asphalt because of the significant environmental benefits as well as the opportunity to improve the quality and life of road pavements, particularly in areas of reactive clay soils,” Ms Holmes-Ross said.
Acting CEO of Tyre Stewardship Australia Steve Clifford congratulated the council for conducting the test.
“The work done in South Australia will play an important role in creating valuable domestic recycling outcomes for end-of-life tyres. Outcomes that can also deliver new green jobs,” Mr Clifford said.
Ongoing testing is scheduled to run for two years, with results monitored on a regular basis to assess the key performance parameters.
A minimum 1:1 funding criterion is required for all projects, with a minimum funding level of $50,000 excluding GST and maximum of $300,000 excluding GST, however considerations will be given for larger or smaller project cash contribution on a dollar for dollar basis if the case can be made for the achievement of greater outcomes.
Applications will be assessed most favourably if a project consumes high volumes of Australian tyre-derived products and are considered innovative by TSA. Projects that can demonstrate a strong correlation between the delivery of the project and ongoing consumption of tyre derived products will also be strongly considered.
Projects must have collaborative partnerships between industry, research bodies and end users such as councils, road authorities, manufacturers or civil engineering and construction companies to demonstrate a realistic market application.
One example is the testing performed by state road authorities of the application of the newly released Australian Asphalt Pavement Association national specifications for crumbed rubber containing asphalt.
Other projects include the University of Melbourne’s trial to develop an optimum blend of permeable paving that uses recycled tyres to create footpaths, bike paths, carparks and low volume traffic roads which also can provide water to nearby trees.
The expanded funding stream does not allow funding of recycling infrastructure, seed funding for new ventures, clean-up of stockpiles or for feasibility studies.
TSA has already committed more than $3 million in support of research and development projects that focus on finding new domestic uses for tyre derived products.