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01 Oct 2015

End of life tyres have been identified as a major environmental problem in New Zealand with some 85% of the 6,000,000-plus waste tyres generated annually (62,000 tonnes) being sent to landfill. EcoRetainer Ltd, in conjunction with Wilco Precast Ltd, has developed an interlocking precast concrete block with a bale of compressed tyres encapsulated within the concrete. 

The 4-4.5 tonne blocks, which have a New Zealand patent, are designed with dimples and locating channels to interlock at varying angles to form retaining walls, stop banks, sea walls and variety of other infrastructural uses. EcoRetainer walls have applications anywhere there is a need for rapid, cost effective deployment of civil engineering solutions such as rock-fall protection structures.

EcoRetainer walls can be installed without specialist equipment or major site works and will save significant time and money when deployed. The structures can be left in-situ for years, or they can just as easily be removed and put into service somewhere else. Encasing tyres in concrete eliminates the possibility of leachates escaping into waterways. Comparative cost analysis has shown that for large retaining projects EcoRetainer walls are half the cost of other systems.

Further waste minimisation can occur through using recycled concrete to replace aggregate used in the precast mix. While recycling of concrete is not unique, the use of waste tyres combined with recycled concrete is. EcoRetainer is a good news story of Kiwi ingenuity developing a way to turn a source of troublesome and environmentally damaging waste into a useful product.