According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), the State generates approximately 15-20 million waste tires annually. Additionally, an estimated 9 million waste tires are already stockpiled across the State causing major environmental problems related to storage and disposal. In accordance with the NYS Waste Tire Management Act of 2003, NYSDEC is developing a program to enhance and establish "environmentally compatible and economically-sustainable markets for waste tires." As such, the Authority has incorporated recycled tires into some of its highway pavement projects, keeping tens of thousands of tires out of the waste stream. Tire shred fill is designed to be a lightweight and has the added benefit of recycling a waste material.
During the reconstruction and widening project between Interchanges 53 and 54 along I-90 in Buffalo, a section of fill for the westbound fourth lane widening was constructed with shredded waste tires. The 200' long, 10' high tire slope was designed in a partnership with the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Geotechnical Engineering Bureau and is estimated to have used nearly 100,000 tires.
Additionally, the Authority partnered with the NYSDOT for the Interchange 17 Reconstruction Project, which provided a direct connection between Interstate 87 and Interstate 84. This project relocated portions of parking lots and internal roadways, utilizing approximately 400,000 recycled tires, or 3815 metric tons of tire shred, for backfill along the roadway. (See the discussion under Energy for more information on the other environmental components of this project.)
For additional information on the NYS DEC's Waste Tire Program, please visit the NYS DEC’s website.
Recycled Tire Noise Barrier Pilot
As part of the Thruway Authority's (Authority) Interchange 23 to 24 Reconstruction Project, the Authority is piloting the installation of a noise barrier system made from recycled scrap rubber tires. The barrier prototype, located at milepost 146.2 northbound, is 80' long and utilizes the absorption properties inherent within the rubber polymeric material.
Overall, approximately 375 scrap tires will be used to construct a 15' tall x 8' wide wall. The forgiving and flexible properties of the material help to prevent cracking, movement, or deterioration of the wall due to ground vibration or movement. The tires also provide excellent weather durability due to the rubber polymer. According to the manufacturer, the rubber panels offer a virtually indefinite lifetime in outside exposure, and experience no impact due to hot or cold temperatures, freeze and thaw, or precipitation. The effectiveness of noise absorption, however is currently being evaluated by the manufacturer.
Travel Plaza Recycling Containers
As part of the Thruway Authority's (Authority) commitment to environmental stewardship, a public recycling program has been implemented at each of its 27 travel plazas across the State. Marked recycling containers, made from 100 percent recycled plastic, are located outside the main entrance of each of the Authority's travel plazas. The recycling bins provide an opportunity for travelers to help the environment by recycling glass, plastic, newspapers and aluminum containers.
Recycling Office Supplies
The Thruway Authority (Authority) recycles approximately 2,500 to 3,000 tons of material annually. This material includes paper, cardboard, glass, returnable containers, plastic, batteries, metal, tires, motor oil, yard waste, and office equipment. Regarding the recycling of rechargeable, NiCad, and various other non-alkaline batteries, a special program has been established that involves returning batteries back to the vendors for recycling. Moreover, the Authority purchases products made with recycled materials, such as paper, tissues, plastic materials, re-manufactured office equipment, and recycled motor oils. Authority/Corporation employees are also encouraged to recycle daily through The Save That Office Paper (STOP) Program, in which employees utilize recycling receptacles located in offices and lobbies.