A recycler of construction materials is hoping to pioneer the use of rubberized asphalt on New Jersey's roadways.
Keasbey-based Bayshore Recycling Corp. has partnered with Rutgers University to develop and test a rubberized asphalt mix specifically for New Jersey's roads and climate. If all goes as expected, Bayshore plans in September to pave a deteriorated municipal road outside of its facility with rubberized asphalt in a pilot program for the state Department of Transportation, according to Bayshore President Valerie Montecalvo.
After the road is finished, it will be monitored next winter by Bayshore, Rutgers and the state DOT for deterioration and performance, Ms. Montecalvo told Tire Business. If the results satisfy the state, then New Jersey will adopt the specifications developed by Bayshore and Rutgers and write those specs into its codes for all contractors and asphalt plants to use crumb rubber on other roads in the state.
For a company whose core business is recycling concrete, asphalt, brick, block and slag, Bayshore had to jump through many hoops and knock on several doors to get this rubberized asphalt project off the ground. The company, founded by Ms. Montecalvo in 1995, is a certified Class-B recycler, which means its license to recycle asphalt, brick and block also allows it to recycle tires in New Jersey, she explained.
A few years ago when Ms. Montecalvo started to research why nobody in New Jersey was recycling tires, she said she was dismayed.
``When I called people in the industry and tried to find out, `Hey, why aren't you guys doing this, how come nobody's interested?' my answer was, there is no end use, there's no money in it,'' she said.
She continued to research the pros and cons of using rubber in asphalt since that already was part of Bayshore's business. Ms. Montecalvo found that in Arizona more than 3,000 miles of roads have been paved with rubberized asphalt, and the question that arose in her mind was why New Jersey roads couldn't also use the material.
``One of the things we found out is that the recyclers weren't interested in recycling tires because they said it was too expensive to grind the tires up and then find a viable end use,'' she said. ``And once they did grind them up to a certain specification, they weren't even sure what specification they were supposed to grind them up to.
``No one wanted it. There were some little uses, like the playground mulch and some flooring. Nothing really high volume to be able to handle the amount of scrap tires that we have in New Jersey.''
Ms. Montecalvo and John Dobrosky, Bayshore's vice president of corporate affairs, then visited several universities and were particularly impressed with Rutgers's Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT), a federally-funded program with an asphalt pavement testing laboratory.
``We sat down with Rutgers and said `OK, guys, tell us why there's no recycled rubber in New Jersey's roads,''' Ms. Montecalvo explained. She said she got the same responses regarding the expense and lack of interest, then demanded to know if rubberized asphalt would work.
Ali Maher, professor, chairman and director of CAIT, said he knew of at least two sections of roads in New Jersey that have been paved with a crumb rubber modifier that performed very well. Bayshore commissioned his department to develop a new crumb rubber mix-one that would be more durable than any previous formula and would be designed for a given site with given material.
Because the state wasn't interested in funding this study, Bayshore gave a $110,000 grant to Rutgers' department, according to Mr. Maher. He noted that much of the reluctance from officials at the state DOT and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) came not so much from doubts about rubberized asphalt's performance but rather from claims by environmental groups that exhaust from as-phalt plants are dangerous.
``Arizona has shown that what comes out of (asphalt) plants is as good or as bad as any other exhaust fumes,'' Mr. Maher said. ``So it's not an issue at all. It's a question of re-educating some people involved in the agencies.''
Even though Bayshore had established the research partnership with Rutgers, Ms. Montecalvo said she initially couldn't get the state on board.
``At first we were met with a lot of opposition,'' she said. ``Some people from the DEP just shut the door in our faces and said things like, `We don't want your trash in our roads.'''
Calls by Tire Business to the New Jersey DOT seeking comment were not returned.
Bayshore resorted to intense lobbying of those state agencies and even appealed to Gov. James McGreevey. That finally brought everyone to a roundtable discussion last year on the possibility of using rubberized asphalt long-term on state roadways.
Ms. Montecalvo even brought the mayor of Woodbridge Township, Bayshore's municipality, to these meetings and convinced state officials to give the green light for paving a half-mile stretch of road outside the company's facility as a pilot.
``I'm persistent,'' Ms. Montecalvo said of her efforts. ``I teased them. I'm like having a nagging wife. We set up so many meetings with them. They had faith in our recycling company...I'm very active in a lot of committees including our own solid waste advisory committee in Middlesex County. So I have a lot of voice in the public arena.''
The decision by Woodbridge Township, the state DOT and DEP to allow Bayshore and Rutgers to pave a local road came before Bayshore could get a plant operational to make either the crumb rubber or asphalt, Ms. Montecalvo acknowledged. However, the company has talked to two asphalt companies interested in making the mix, and Bayshore could easily acquire crumb rubber from any U.S. manufacturer of the material, she said.
Who will supply the crumb for the project hasn't been determined yet because preparation of the crumb for the asphalt will be the last stage in the design mix created by Rutgers, she explained.
``Once Rutgers tells us the exact size mesh and how they want the exterior ground up, then we can select the company that would be able to accomplish that,'' she said.
If the pilot project is successful, Bayshore plans to become a high-volume producer of crumb rubber and possibly asphalt at its 26-acre headquarters, according to Ms. Montecalvo. The company is a waterfront op-eration located on the state's eastern shores with an active rail service and 350,000 square feet of building space.
``We have perfect infrastructure to do this,'' she said. ``I believe everyone listened to me because it wasn't pie in the sky...Every single piece of the puzzle we could work out here on the site, so that gave a lot of credibility to the project.
``We were already in business. A lot of times the department officials don't even listen to them because they say they hear so many stories from people all over the world coming and saying, `We're going to do this. We're going to do that.' And it never materializes.''
Bayshore Recycling posts ap-proximately $3 million in annual sales and, in 2003, had a gross profit margin of at least 15 percent, she said. Besides being that firm's president, Ms. Montecalvo is sec-retary/treasurer of F. Montecalvo Contracting Co. Inc., a separate, road contracting firm started by her husband, Frank, 24 years ago. That company posts approximately $5 million to $7 million in annual sales.
Michael Blumenthal, senior technical director at the Rubber Manufacturers Association, noted Bayshore has gone about its crumb rubber project the right way because it involved all of the state's major players. He said New Jersey has had no leadership in creating and sustaining a plan to recycle tires, largely because the state's agencies have had no impetus to do anything.
Currently, the state has no scrap tire fee or funds to clean up and create markets for scrap tires, he said. Many of New Jersey's scrap tires are transported to landfills in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Maryland.
Ms. Montecalvo said she was surprised by New Jersey officials' lack of faith in crumb rubber and discovered they didn't want to fund a project they weren't sure would work, particularly when others have failed with marketing crumb rubber.
``I can understand that,'' she said of state officials' reluctance. ``It isn't the state's responsibility to deal with the tire problem. It's the industry's responsibility.
``Every one of us including construction companies,...everybody who uses a tire has to assume some responsibility for how to effectively recycle them.''