Americans discard about 290 million used tires each year. In 1989, only 10% of old tires were recycled, while the rest sat in landfills.
Today, that statistic has increased to 81% thanks to companies like Blacklidge Emulsions, who found a way to reuse those old tires. Grover Allen, Director of Technical Support for Blacklidge Emulsions, says, “So we take a recycled material, put it into a roadway, which obviously benefits moving that material to a good application.”
Blacklidge grinds up tire rubber and uses it to make asphalt. The product they produce goes to roadways in Florida and Louisiana. Although it’s produced locally in Mississippi, the Magnolia State has yet to fully hop on board.
On Highway 49, just north of Harrison Central High School, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (M.D.O.T.) has laid down a one mile patch of asphalt containing ground rubber tire as a test to see how well it works before using it down on more Mississippi roads. Allen also says, “Typically, anyone’s going to be resistant to something new until it proves out in performance.”
Studies on the recycled rubber’s performance have been going on for decades. Seventy percent of Departments of Transportation nationwide are making the switch to this modified asphalt because of its durability, as well as its expansion and contraction capabilities.
Blacklidge officials tell News 25 to see more of these roads locally, Mississippi needs to make a bigger push toward sustainable efforts. Allen closes, “I think there’s got to be a desire to make a change, to take the product and take it out of landfills and utilize it in some way.”
Blacklidge officials say another reason to get tires out of landfills is because they collect water, which makes them a breeding ground for mosquitos.