Business

Local asphalt rubber company to recycle tyres for road surfacing material

BY KARENA BENNETT Business writer bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, May 30, 2014    

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JAMAICA might see a 50 per cent reduction in road maintenance costs within 10 years.

Starting next month SKDP Haulage and Distribution plans to convert thousands of used tyres into asphalt rubber, which is said to last twice as long as standard asphalt.

The company has already stockpiled 12,000 tyres and is targeting 300,000 to 350,000 tyres -- which could be used in the paving of over 1,000 lane miles of road -- in its first year of operations.

Now the company has to complete discussions with the Government and asphalt pavement companies, which will ultimately determine if the rubber ingredient will be used in asphalt mix.

Stephen Shaw, spokesperson for the National Works Agency, isn't sure of the asphalt rubber's sustainability but he is open to new cost-effective measures.

"The viability of this product will depend on it being used successfully on roads," said Shaw. "What types of road it will be suitable for, I am not sure but we welcome any new initiative that can result in greater benefits to road users in terms of value for money."

Sherold Philibert, CEO of SKDP also plans to export.

"The product has been launched and is now listed on Trade Key, a global company that connects buyers, sellers, importers and exporters of different countries," he told Caribbean Business Report.

The conversion of the tyres into asphalt rubber will use an ambiant process, where regular asphalt and crumb rubber is mixed under heated conditions allowing the rubber particles to swell, resulting in rubberised asphalt.

This modified binder is then mixed with aggregates and laid to form a durable road surface.

The elasticity enables asphalt rubber roads to hold up better under traffic loads, and resist cracking and weather damage in hot and wet conditions, according to Philibert.

"The first part of the process is to de-bead the tyre, which is the removing of the wires around the rim of the tyre," he explained. "It then goes on to the conveyor belt and that conveyor belt takes you to the grinding machine that grinds up the tyre into chips."

The next stage of grinding brings it down to a smaller size, followed by a stage which reduces it to an even smaller size and at that time the excess contaminants are removed.

After spending US$600,000 ($66.5 million) buying equipment and setting up its recycling plant in Discovery Bay, St Ann, SKDP has already identified a number of local tyre dealers as well as the National Solid Waste Management Agency (NSWMA) and the Jamaica Production Corporation (JAMPRO) to partner with the company.

Apart from possible reduced road maintenance cost, locally produced asphalt rubber can potentially: generate foreign exchange earnings; reduce road noise; enhance splash and skid resistance of road surfaces; and improve durability of roads.

It can also reduce fatigue and reflective cracking as well as health hazard from storing tyres.

SKDP is also looking at producing: pavers; rubber mats and tiles; paints; sealants; waterproofing membrane; waste bins; and shoe soles from crumb rubber.

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