Crumb rubber is recycled rubber produced from automotive and truck scrap tires. During the recycling process, steel and tire cord (fluff) are removed, leaving tire rubber with a granular consistency. Continued processing with a granulator or cracker mill, possibly with the aid of cryogenics or by mechanical means, reduces the size of the particles further. The particles are sized and classified based on various criteria including color (black only or black and white). The granulate is sized by passing through a screen, the size based on a dimension (1/4 inch) or mesh (holes per inch : 10, 20, etc.). Crumb rubber is often used in astroturf as cushioning, where it is sometimes referred to as astro-dirt.
Rubberized asphalt is the largest market for crumb rubber in the United States, consuming an estimated 220 million pounds (100 kt), or approximately 12 million tires annually. Crumb rubber is also used as ground cover under playground equipment, and as a surface material for running tracks and athletic fields.
When dealing with asphalt overlays, reflection cracks can arise and cause an unwanted crack pattern beneath the pavement. Rubber-modified asphalt uses stress absorbing membranes that reduce the reflective cracking because of its elastic properties. With fewer cracks, there are fewer repairs, so crumb rubber assists in reducing maintenance costs. The pavement has an increased lifespan because after multiple uses and exposure to different elements, regular asphalt loses elasticity over time. The use of the artificial rubber resists the formation of cracks and has an anti-aging effect that keeps the asphalt in a better condition