Old tires organized for recyclingRoads have come a long way since the days of horse drawn carts, and yet, the maintenance problems remain the same.

Unfortunately, the reality is the materials used to pave roads cannot stand up to drastic weather changes and every day traffic. The end result is dangerous potholes and destructive cracks that damage cars and drain state, county and city funds. That leaves the question – is there a viable alternative? California seems to think so, their solution not only addressing road erosion but landfill issues.

CA’s Solution

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the coastal state’s plan is their intention to use recycled tires. California is on the cutting edge with recycling techniques and many of these include recycling old cars.  CalRecycle’s Rubberized Pavement Grant Program, according to Recycling Today, will turn millions of wasted tires into a valuable resource by using the recycled material to repair roads rather than add to landfills. By using the alternative resource, the state hopes create durable road surfaces that will cut costs, save lives and protect the environment. In fact, the process has so much potential the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery approved over five million in grant funds to implement the plan in 43 counties.

As promising as the plan is, one has to wonder if using recycled tires to repair and resurface roads has any real benefits. Stop and consider how much each state invests every year just in materials alone in an effort to keep their roads safe. Recycling Today states that laying rubberized pavement at half the thickness of asphalt overlays is just as effective, if not more so. This translates into using fewer resources to repair and maintain roads, thus reducing the costs involved. In addition, using recycling tires rather than tossing them away saves states the cost of dealing with overflowing landfills.

Solution to Environmental Problems

Reducing landfill waste is not the only solution to environmental problems the world faces today. Keep in mind that California alone produces more than 40 million wasted tires every year, providing the state with more than enough material to keep their roads in excellent repair. After all, resurfacing a lane mile only requires 2,000 tires. Otherwise, they have no alternative but to use conventional materials, which means drilling and mining for the necessary resources. However, as the overlay is thinner, less material is needed to repair roads, reducing the need to drill and mine for precious resources and cutting energy costs. Recycling tires is not only better for the people but also the environment.

One of the most promising benefits of rubberized pavement is its durability. One should consider a hard rainstorm combined with heavy traffic can break conventional materials down in a short period of time. However, rubberized pavement lasts more than 40 percent longer and is crack resistant. The benefits do not end there, though, recycled tires proving to be useful in multiple ways. For one, the alternative material retains its color longer, ensuring road markers are easier to see. In addition, the old tires not only provide a skid resistant surface but also one that absorbs sound rather well. With benefits such as these, one has to wonder why more states aren’t implementing the recycled tire project.

California may really be on to something with recycled tires. There is no doubting the benefits of using the alternative material, especially when considering safety and costs. Add to that the reduction in landfill waste, cutting back on the need for drilling and the sustainability of rubberized material and one can easily see the advantages. As for where the funding comes from to implement the project, California came up with a viable solution there, too. Consumers pay a negligible $1.75 when they purchase new tires, that money going to keep their roads safe and their cars in good repair. All things considered, it’s a small price to pay in the end. The only question that remains is when other states will implement the project in an effort to save money, lives and the environment.