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Recycled rubber is making comeback in civil engineering

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TORONTO由ecycled rubber in civil engineering and non-rubber asphalt projects suffered in the recession, but it shows signs of coming back in the U.S. and is still strong in Canada.

That was the message of speakers at the 2012 Rubber Recycling Symposium late last year in Toronto.

Tire-derived aggregate (TDA)葉hat is, six- to eight-inch tire chips used as light fill in civil engineering projects葉ook a hit in the recession like all other end-markets for scrap tires, according to Rubber Manufacturers Association Vice President Michael Blumenthal.

However, TDA has potential in western states such as Colorado, New Mexico and the Dakotas, which have enough volume in scrap tires to supply large-scale civil engineering projects, Mr. Blumenthal said.

典DA in those states could eat up a lot of tires, and at the same time give them economic value, he said. 釘ut because there aren't any major markets out there, somebody would have to be the first to do it.

The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) is trying to jumpstart the TDA market in that state through a grant program, Mr. Blumenthal said.

There are several issues, however, that may make that effort difficult, he said. One is that California already has a diversion rate for its scrap tires of more than 90 percent. Another is the recent sharp increase in exporting scrap tires to China and other Asian countries, which is cutting into scrap tire supplies for every other recycled rubber market, he said.

There are several active TDA programs in Canada, pursued by provincial agencies and scrap tire stewardship organizations.

Last year, for example, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario used 3,000 tons of TDA (400,000 passenger tire equivalents) as a light embankment fill in the replacement of a bridge near Cornwall, Ontario.

Also, in August 2012, the Ministry of Transportation of Alberta completed a pilot project in which it used 3,600 tons worth of OTR tires as granular fill in a 20-mile stretch of Alberta highway.

The pilot program is part of an ongoing effort to manage Alberta's annual generation of OTR scrap tires, according to Brad Schultz, director of operations for the Alberta Recycling Management Authority.

Agency experts installed monitoring equipment in the granular fill to measure all aspects of its performance, Mr. Schultz said.

典here will be a review (in 2013) of how well it performs, he said. 的f the review is favorable, then TDA projects will take our entire OTR scrap tire generation.

Meanwhile, there are all sorts of opportunities for recycled rubber arising from retail and commercial development in Canada, according to Jean-Pierre (Pete) Charron, director of sales and marketing for Navan, Ontario-based IOWAT. The name of the company, a distributor of tire-derived products, is an acronym for 的t Once Was a Tire.

The key to growth in that market, Mr. Charron said, is Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), or companies that invest in real estate assets and distribute the income, mostly from rent, to their shareholders.

REITs own and operate thousands of commercial properties across Canada, he said, and they represent hundreds of thousands of square feet of landscaping and hardscape (sidewalks, pavement, etc.).

All of these REITs are under pressure to follow the guidelines of the Canadian government's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

LEED certification, according to Mr. Charron, demonstrates that the buildings are energy-efficient and have a significantly low carbon footprint. This not only satisfies regulatory guidelines, he said, but also responds to pressure from tenants to cut operating costs and from shareholders to maximize returns.

Recycled rubber paving and mulch are prime examples of environmentally friendly products crucial to LEED certification for both new construction and retrofitting, according to Mr. Charron. The rubber sidewalk and paving materials and rubber mulch IOWAT distributes are perfect for LEED-conscious REIT building projects, he said.

However, rubber hardscape and landscape products have made little headway in the REIT market so far, according to Mr. Charron. One REIT company alone has more than 200 LEED-certified projects, yet not a single one has used any rubber mulch or sidewalk material, he said.

摘ngineers and architects don't really know what this industry can provide, he said. 典here's one thing we have to keep in mind: Once the shovel is in the ground and the digging starts, we are too late to have our products spec'd.

The recycled rubber industry must make its successes better known to REIT executives, architects and engineers, and IOWAT will be a leader in that effort, Mr. Charron said.

典he projects we have completed with our current lineup of TDP have created an extremely positive outcome, he said. For instance, a 7,000-sq.-ft. parking lot was completed in Toronto last year that used paving materials provided by IOWAT.

典hat is a great place for people to go and see what recycled rubber products can do, he said.

In addition to distributing products from recycled rubber product manufacturers, IOWAT is also heavily involved in research and development projects with partners in Thailand and the United Kingdom, Mr. Charron said.
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