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Recycling of End-of-Life Tires (ELTs) for Sustainable Geotechnical Applications: A New Zealand Perspective


End-of-life tires (ELTs) are tires, unusable in their original form, which go into a waste management scheme (for recycling and energy recovery purposes), or otherwise are disposed. In New Zealand, the annual disposal of 3.5 million ELTs is posing critical environmental and socio-economic issues, and the reuse of ELTs through large-volume recycling engineering projects is a necessity. In this study, gravel and recycled granulated rubber were mixed to explore the possibility of obtaining synthetic granular geomaterials (with adequate geotechnical and environmental characteristics) that are suitable as structural fills for geotechnical applications including foundation systems for low-rise light-weight residential buildings. Moreover, an original framework with a set of geo-environmental criteria is proposed for the acceptance of gravel–rubber mixtures (GRMs) as structural fills. It is shown that when gravel-size like rubber particles are used, GRMs with volumetric rubber content of 40% or less have adequate strength (ϕ’ > 30°), low compressibility (εv ≤ 3%), excellent energy adsorption properties, and acceptable leachate metal concentration values (e.g., Zn < 1 mg/L), making them ideal synthetic structural fill materials for many sustainable geotechnical applications.

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