News, Waste & Resource Recovery

Crumb rubber game changer for Australian roads sector

The equivalent of more than a million used car tyres can now be recycled to make high quality crumb rubber bitumen for Australian roads in a ‘game changing’ partnership between Puma Bitumen and Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA).

Through two equipment investments – partly funded by TSA – Puma Bitumen has expanded its manufacturing capacity and widened the range of crumb rubber technology for both sprayed seals and asphalt currently available in Australia.

Two mobile crumb rubber blending units were commissioned in Western Australia to become a permanent part of Puma’s supply chain, capable of producing highly stable crumb rubber binder with rubber contents up to 24 per cent. TSA contributed $200,000 to the upgrade.

On the east coast of Australia, Puma’s Townsville site have also been upgraded to allow production of crumb rubber binder, with $50,000 in TSA funding. The Townsville plant successfully produced the first batch of crumb rubber modified sprayed seal binder last month.

It represents a significant investment by Puma Bitumen, supported by TSA, in equipment that will enable the local production of crumb rubber modified binders (CRMB).

CRMB is one of the most promising applications of tyre waste in Australia. The modification of bitumen by incorporating crumb rubber enhances its elastic properties, making roads more durable and less prone to bleeding, cracking and stone loss.

Phil Chirnside, national manager Puma Bitumen, said: “We are committed to solving industry and governmental challenges and finding eco-friendly solutions to reduce the impact on environment, society and workforce and support the Australian road industry.

“For every tonne of binder production, the equivalent of 25 passenger tyres will be recycled. This can only be achieved because Puma has the support of industry-leading manufacturing equipment.”

“These infrastructure upgrades by Puma are the perfect example of how important innovation is in the circular economy,” CEO of Tyre Stewardship Australia, Lina Goodman, said.

In the 2018/19 financial year TSA approved 13 new crumb rubber roads projects. The successful delivery of those projects will create a potential market demand for the Australian resource recovery industry of 11,700 tonnes per annum – the equivalent of more than 1.5 million EPU.

TSA has invested more than $6.3 million nationally to fund real-world outcomes for tyre-derived products like crumb rubber. Ms Goodman said the significant level of investment was testament to TSA’s deep commitment to driving a comprehensive, national program to significantly increase the development and penetration of crumb rubber products in Australia.

“Through its export ban of whole baled tyres, expected to come into effect at the end of this year, the Federal Government has set the scene for greater consumption of tyre-derived products such as crumb rubber, permeable pavements and other innovative products across infrastructure nationally,” Goodman said. “The environment is perfect for investment in infrastructure for the recycling of used tyres, and these projects show Puma Bitumen is ahead of the pack.”