Rubber Crumb: Why Should I Care?
You might have heard of rubber crumb in discussions about sustainability or green building materials. But what exactly is rubber crumb and what is its relevance to construction?
Also, don't miss our interview with tire recycling expert Dr Mehran Zarrebini!
Images supplied by Mathe Group (Pty) Ltd
Let's get into it...
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What is Rubber Crumb?
The term 'rubber crumb' is quite self-explanatory - it describes granular rubber particles ('crumbs') produced from recycled car or truck tires. It comes in differing consistencies, depending on its use.
Rubber crumb can be used across a variety of applications, including road construction, sports fields, flooring products, and more.
Watch the process:
Benefits and uses of Rubber Crumb
Some of the major benefits of rubber crumb include:
Reducing tire waste (pollution) It's estimated that 1 billion end-of-life tires are sent to landfills every year. This has serious environmental and health implications and is a growing problem worldwide. If you're not sold, check out the Kuwait Tire Graveyard.
Super durable and versatile Rubber crumb has many applications, usually when durability and strength are key. For example, it can be used in highway construction to extend the lifespan of roads and their resilience to sun, pressure, and erosion. It is also common in flooring products, as the rubber ensures great shock absorption and acoustic performance. Learn more here.
Promoting the circular economy The environmental impact, energy, labour, and other resources involved in creating just one tire are immense. Hence, we ask: how can we continue to make the most of its value after the intended use is complete? In a world of scarce resources and environmental degradation, creating new uses for 'end-of-life' products is increasingly important. Rubber crumb is a great solution to tire waste, enabling manufacturers to make the most of this incredible product. Learn more about the circular economy here.
Relevance for construction industry professionals
The construction industry is responsible for more than 20% of CO2 emissions, largely due to materials like concrete, steel, aluminum, and asphalt. Choosing sustainable building materials is a major step in the move towards net zero.
Concrete alone is expected to contribute to 12% of global GHG emissions
in 2060, (OECD 2020).
Innovation and enabling frameworks are urgently needed to close material loops and reduce the demand for virgin materials for the built environment, which jointly with infrastructure currently use ~50% of resources extracted globally.
2020 Global Status Report For Buildings And Construction
So what's the solution? In truth, there is no one solution. Eliminating waste and finding alternatives to problematic materials like cement will be key, though not a complete solution.
The great thing about rubber crumb is that it can even replace things like cement in certain applications.
Let's take rubber crumb cradles as an example. Rubber crumb subflooring cradles can be used to create raised systems that eliminate the need for cement to fix new fittings to existing floors. The same is true for external paving.
In 2023, it seems ridiculous that replacing your floors means pulling up everything, re-concreting, and laying a new floor that is completely fixed. These cradles are a great example of how innovation can minimise effort, the need for new materials, and ultimately the environmental impact of building projects. Check out this video to see how it works.
This is just one example, but the list is endless. I suppose the message is: find alternatives! Humans are very clever and we are constantly developing new technologies to weed out unsustainable practices. It's just a matter of bringing them into the mainstream and changing the culture around the building.
Watch to learn more
If you're interested in this topic, here are some interesting reads to get in the know: