If you had 290 million old rubber tires sitting around, what would you do with
The question is not a theoretical one by any means. Every single year, some
290 million rubber tires are discarded by Americans
across the country. Statistically, that translates into approximately
one tire per person. Given the choice—what would you do
with your used tires?
The Tire Dilemma
For years, ever since the popularity of tire recycling dropped in the 1960s,
used rubber tires were tossed into landfills with abandon. The cumulative effects
of millions of discarded rubber tires were disastrous. Tires, designed for a
rugged life of use under a car, are made of vulcanized rubber. That means that
rubber tires can sit around for literally thousands of years, and never decompose.
There are other problems with leaving rubber tires to sit in landfills ad infinitum.
Discarded tires retain water, serving as a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes
and other pests. The steel liners in the tires are prime culprits for tearing
the protective lining at the bottom of a landfill, giving harmful substances
the opportunity to leach into the soil. The oily residue left on the tires enters
the ground as well, and runs off into our water supplies.
Worst of all, piles and piles of rubber tires left sitting around in landfills
are primary targets for fires of the worst kind. Tire pile fires can burn for
months, the constant flow of acrid black smoke releasing toxic pollution into
the air for weeks and weeks. The smoke from the fires spreads and spreads, bringing
toxic chemicals and air pollutants to outlying areas miles around.
Tire Recycling: The Ultimate Solution
Happily, the solution for old, discarded tires is a simple one, great for users
and great for the environment.
Enter tire recycling.
Tire recycling has gained enormous popularity in every developed country around
the globe. Even tires that can no longer be used for cars are tremendously useful
items, once you put your mind to the problem. Currently, recycled tires are
routinely used in countless valuable ways.
Recovered rubber can cost half the price of natural or synthetic rubber, and
possesses certain properties that supersede those of virgin rubber. The production
of rubber through the recycling process uses less energy than the production
of a new rubber product. And of course, recycling rubber tires keeps them out
of landfills, which allows the environment to breathe a sigh of relief!
Recycled tires can be turned into a multitude of useful products. The scope
of recycling methods is mind-boggling. A partial listing of products made from
recycled tires includes shoes, sandals, buckets, motor vehicle parts, doormats,
water containers, pots, dustbins, bicycle pedals, and crash barriers.
One of the most popular ways of recycling used tires is by
removing the steel banding, and shredding the rubber into granules.
The recycled rubber granules are then used for all sorts of
things: playground cover, asphalt
and athletic rubber surfaces,
landscape mulch, arena
footing, and more. According to one rubber mulch manufacturer,
some 80 scrap tires are used to create just one cubic yard of
recycled rubber mulch.
The tire recycling solution is a real win-win proposition for everybody! Tire
users have a safe, legal way to discard their used tires, rather than leaving
them around to serve as an eyesore and a potential environmental danger. Recycled
rubber manufacturers have discovered an entirely new niche in the economical
realm, using cheap and plentiful raw material. Consumers may now avail themselves
of a complete new line of recycled rubber products, which are versatile, durable,
and eminently useful. And best of all, the environment is protected in the nicest
With continued awareness, the number of rubber tires filling up landfills and
hurting the environment can be significantly reduced. Happy tire recycling!
UWM Center for By-Products Utilization