New rubber road surface M1 trial starts

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Published on 7 August 2019 by Mike Waters

Highways England has announced that the trial of a new road surface made using recycled tyres has begun on the M1 motorway.

The trial is taking place on the M1’s southbound carriageway between junctions 23 and 22, near Leicester, and is designed to test how durable the new surface is on one of the UK’s busiest roads.

Developed by Tarmac and funded by Highways England, the experimental road surface is a mix of conventional asphalt and waste tyres. Tarmac estimates that up to 750 waste tyres could be used per kilometre of road, depending on how thick the road surface needs to be, and Highways England has expressed the hope that “this environmentally-sound innovation could be the way forward for future road surfaces.”

The UK produces approximately 40 million waste tyres per year, with vast numbers being shipped overseas – generally to Asia and the Middle East – because EU rules ban the disposal of tyres in landfill sites. As a result, Highways England has noted that “there are over seven million tyres filling one Kuwaiti landfill site which is so vast that the ‘tyre graveyard’ is now visible from space.”

Welcoming the launch of the trial, Highways England’s Corporate Group Leader Martin Bolt said: “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.”

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