Concrete reinforcement could provide a significant outlet for currently unused steel scrap derived from tyres, says the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in a report published yesterday.
Currently users are suspicious of tyre derived steel says the report, because of quality issues in the reprocessing. There is only one UK reprocessing company using tyre steel.But there are opportunities to develop better processes says WRAP and it believes a business case can be developed for high value use in reinforced concrete, both for users and for reprocessors. A key question is making sure steel is the correct size and quality.The sector is one of several highlighted in the report which says only about a third of potential recovery of materials is being carried out. WRAP estimates from latest research that 100,000t of steel is potentially usable from worn tyres and another 17 000t of fibre. Re-used fibre is typically burnt as fuel but can also find application in insulation products and as an additive in road paving materials.The problem is that currently separation of these elements is limited to the side effects of processes producing relatively high grade granulate or powdered rubber. Specifications require that contamination is kept to a minimum for these products. The rubber also finds construction functions with some of it being used for cold formed compressed rubber products used in making railway crossings for example and increasingly as an additive to some types of asphalt. Pyrolysis and microwaving are among alternative techniques that could be used for recovery says WRAP but have not been much taken up.