“Imagine pieces of rubber about the size of a half dollar in elongated shapes,” said Eric Prater, Byron Union School District (BUSD) superintendent. “And that’s what you’ll see on the playgrounds.”
It’s called Tire-Derived Product (TDP) and thanks to a $150,000 state-funded grant, the BUSD is going green with black rubberized tanbark. The eco-friendly product made from 100% recycled tires is not only softening the school’s carbon footprint; it’s cushioning the district’s pocketbook as well.
“In the long run it will save the district money because we won’t have to replace the tanbark,” said Dolores Long, the BUSD grant writer who applied for the state grant. “Also, for the kids it’s a safer product for them to run, jump and play on. Tanbark is irritating to the skin and gets in the eyes.”
Long came across the idea for the TDP grant last year while doing research on rubberized tracks. “I’m one who thinks outside the box, and I’m for anything I can do to go green,” she said. “So when I saw it (TDP) I went to Eric (Prater) and then began working on the grant application.”
The end result arrived at the Timber Point large play area and the new kindergarten expansion area at Discovery Bay a few weeks ago – hundreds of sacks weighing 2,000 pound each. Crews got right to work distributing the new 6-inch ground cover while re-distributing the old tanbark to landscape locations throughout the district. In November, the remaining product will be distributed to the larger kindergarten playground at Discovery Bay Elementary and the Timber Point kindergarten area.
“The crew was working on it for two solid weeks,” said Prater. “It was a big project and one that I think we underestimated. But it’s in now, and it looks great.”
Students are also likely to think it looks great, which is might be a minor downside to the new groundcover.
“The upside is it (TDP) doesn’t get in your shoes, and the downside is the kids may toss it around a little,” said Prater. “But we’ll see how it unfolds. The benefits far outweigh any negatives, and we’re excited it’s here. It’s been a great journey.”