Highways with recycled pneumatics: A reverse logistics case

Reverse logistics describes all operations related to the reuse of products and materials. It is the process of moving goods from their final destination for achieving value. It is true that supply chains have spent decades perfecting their forward logistics process, but reverse logistics has routinely been neglected. As a result, a lot of money is wasted every day in the form of product or space waste.

Nevertheless, the environmental consciousness and the companies’ social responsibility make possible the development of reverse logistics ideas as the recycled pneumatic roads:

The massive production of pneumatics and the difficulties involved in their destruction when their life cycle ends has been one of the most serious environmental problems in the world. As a solution for this problem, a new reutilization process of pneumatics came up. Due to the application of the pneumatics granulated rubber as a component in the asphalt layer, the highways containing this material are better and safer. This material may be applied both ways as a linking material and as sealing layer. Depending on the given use to the rubber, between 1000 and 7000 pneumatics per kilometre may be utilized. As a result, the highways build with pneumatic rubber have the following properties:

  1. Longer average lifetime
  2. Higher elasticity
  3. Higher resistance to cracking
  4. No water accumulation
  5. Higher grip

Some data:

  • In Spain, more than 1000 km of roads are made by using this material.
  • Durability of railroads:
    • Recycled rubber road: 30 years
    • Standard road: 5 years
  • Maintenance:
    • Recycled rubber road: each 10 years
    • Standard road: each 2-3 years
  • The construction of recycled roads requires around half of granular material.

For a better understanding of this product with recycled material I attach the fabrication process of the pneumatics, from being wasted to be rubberized asphalt:Recycling pneumatic process

To summarize, I want to emphasize the importance of reverse logistics, the supply chain does not finish when the product is sold, but when the product spoils or it is destroyed. If companies take care of it, many innovative processes and products may appear and solve several problems of the present. At the end the ideal objective of every supply chain must be to achieve a cyclic loop where there is no spoilage of products. In this case, this goal is very close, since the highways lifetime is 30 years.


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