Recycling rubber to reduce noise

Every year, about 3.4 million tonnes of old tyres are disposed of in Europe, most being dumped or sent to landfill, in direct contravention of EU rules banning landfilling of both whole and shredded tyres. Noise is assessed as one of the main environmental problems, and traffic is one of the principle sources of noise. This project has come up with a solution, using scrap tyres to make noise protection panels for busy urban roads and railway lines. Such use of recycled used tyres combats noise pollution and also helps with waste management.

Millions of old tyres from cars, lorries and tractors are dumped or sent to landfill every year. But used tyres disposed of this way can cause considerable toxic and noxious damage to the environment.

RUCONBAR hopes to address this with an innovative product for combating noise pollution. Under the EU-funded initiative, rubber from scrap tyres is transformed into granules which are then used to make noise barriers for use along motorways, main roads and railways.

For example a 1 km-long barrier, 3 metres in height, uses 65.5 tonnes of rubber granules, sourced from 7 800 recycled old tyres.

Old for new

The out-of-use tyres, which may otherwise be burnt, abandoned or landfilled, are given a new lease of life, with the sound protection panels contributing to meeting EU-wide noise reduction targets.

As part of the RUCONBAR project, recycled tyres have been used in noise protection barriers along the Rijeka to Zagreb motorway (ARZ).

Closing gap between old and new member states

There is another benefit: in former EU15 countries, only 5% of the 3.4 million tonnes of waste tyres generated each year is sent to landfill, compared with 29% in the 13 new member states. The Croatia-based consortium behind the project aims to close this gap.

Prof Stjepan Lakusic, of RUCONBAR, said, “The main aim is to resolve two major environmental problems: noise pollution and waste tyre management.”

View more Information Eco-innovation on Rubberised Concrete Noise Barriers (RUCONBAR)