Putting tyre rubber in the road rather than on it is a multi-million-dollar opportunity for an Auckland recycling business.
Pacific Rubber takes tyres destined for the landfill and processes them into small granules for use in everything from sports turfs to road surfaces.
Co-founder Andrew Christie said the biggest market for recycled rubber was for use in roading projects. Rubber milled to the texture of black sand is blended into the top inch of the road to create rubberised asphalt concrete.
In the United States rubberised asphalt concrete, which has the added bonus of creating quieter roads, is the second largest single market for recycled rubber accounting for 12 million tyres a year.
Christie said Australian roading contractors were just beginning to use the product and the market was estimated to be worth around A$15 million ($19 million).
"It's not massive but that is from zero five years ago," he said.
At the moment that rubber comes from Asia, but Christie said Pacific Rubber's point of difference was its high quality rubber product, free from contamination such as steel.
Pacific Rubber is one of five finalists in the University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs' Challenge, which annually awards $1 million in growth funding and mentoring support.
Past winners have included Allpress Espresso, Piako Yoghurt and Jucy Group.
Christie said Pacific Rubber would direct the cash towards a milling machine needed to create road-worthy rubber. He said there were also opportunities to take its business model and recycling know-how into overseas markets.
The business, founded in 2009 from the assets of a tyre recycling firm, now mainly supplies rubber for all-weather sports turfs including 25 pitches in New Zealand, Australia and New Caledonia, providing the company with an average annual revenue growth of 500 per cent for the past three years.
Christie, an investment banker, said the engineering nous behind the business was his two co-founders Stuart Monteith and Owen Young.
It was their ingenuity that had taken the million-dollar plant, nicknamed the "blue monster", and turned it into a viable business as a tyre recycling facility, Christie said.
The winner of the Entrepreneurs Challenge will be announced tonight.
5 collection trucks
200 tyre store customers
4m New Zealand tyres recycled annuallyBy Helen Twose Email Helen