AKRON—Liberty Tire Recycling L.L.C. and Bridgestone Americas Inc. showcased the benefits of rubberized asphalt during Recycle Akron: 2013 at Bridgestone's Akron facility on Aug. 22.
The program is part of the companies' joint effort to educate states on the benefits of adopting asphalt using recycled tires.
"What we found is that rubber, when you use it as a modifier specifically replacing the polymer, it can produce a road that requires less maintenance, is more durable, quiet, has better drainage and has a cost savings," said Liberty President Dick Gust. "It wasn't always that way. Technology in rubberized asphalt has changed dramatically over the last 15 years. One of the things that has helped is that the price of oil is now very expensive."
John Sheerin, director of environmental affairs for Bridgestone's retail operations, said the number of miles a state could pave with rubberized asphalt costs less than if it used standardized asphalt, which contains petroleum. With the price of petroleum increasing, rubberized asphalt has passed standardized asphalt from an efficiency standpoint.
Oil prices hover around $110 a barrel, compared to approximately $12 a barrel in 1998. Gust said if styrene is replaced with rubber, he estimates a company could save about $5 per ton of asphalt. The thickness of rubberized asphalt also can be reduced compared to the traditional method, which Gust said provides more savings.
"We're not really going to market with the concept of recycling, though that is a very important component," Gust said. "We're showing the department of transportation that by using rubber, you can actually make a much better road."
Liberty has grown steadily through acquisition over the last decade. It currently operates 36 facilities in North America, with three in Canada.
The overriding goal of the company is to improve the marketability of scrap tire raw material. Through its partners—which range from major retail sources, such as Bridgestone, to independent dealers across the country—Liberty collects scrap tires and processes them into higher end products.
Gust said Liberty is the largest tire recycler in North America, and the company will manage the flow of approximately 150 million of the 280 million scrap tires the nation generates annually.
"One of the things we recognize is that rubber modified asphalt could be the solution for tire recycling," Gust said. "It could consume all the material that we could process into the road if we could gain acceptance across all of the states."