Recycling

Tire recycling, or rubber recycling, is the process of recycling waste tires that are no longer suitable for use on vehicles due to wear or irreparable damage. These tires are a challenging source of waste, due to the large volume produced, the durability of the tires, and the components in the tire that are ecologically problematic. Because they are highly durable and non-biodegradable, tires can consume valued space in landfills.

 

In 1990, it was estimated that over 1 billion scrap tires were in stockpiles in the United States. As of 2015, only 67 million tires remain in stockpiles. From 1994 to 2010, the European Union increased the amount of tires recycled from 25% of annual discards to nearly 95%, with roughly half of the end-of-life tires used for energy, mostly in cement manufacturing. Newer technology, such as pyrolysis and devulcanization, has made tires suitable targets for recycling despite their bulk and resilience. Aside from use as fuel, the main end use for tires remains ground rubber.

The tire life cycle can be identified by the following six steps:

  • Product developments and innovations such as improved compounds and camber tire shaping increase tire life, increments of replacement, consumer safety, and reduce tire waste.

 

  • Proper manufacturing and quality of delivery reduces waste at production.
  • Direct distribution through retailers, reduces inventory time and ensures that the life span and the safety of the products are explained to customers.

 

  • Consumers’ use and maintenance choices like tire rotation affect tire wear and safety of operation.

 

  • Manufacturers and retailers set policies on return, retread, and replacement to reduce the waste generated from tires and assume responsibility for taking the ‘tire to its grave’ or to its reincarnation.
  • Recycling tires by developing strategies that combust or process waste into new products, creates viable businesses, and fulfilling public policies.

 

  • Landfill disposal

 

  • Tires are not desired at landfills, due to their large volumes and 75% void space.Tires can trap methane gases, causing them to become buoyant, or bubble to the surface. This ‘bubbling’ effect can damage landfill liners that have been installed to help keep landfill contaminants from polluting local surface and ground water.

 

  • Shredded tires are now being used in landfills, replacing other construction materials, for a lightweight back-fill in gas venting systems, leachate collection systems, and operational liners. Shredded tire material may also be used to cap, close, or daily cover landfill sites. Scrap tires as a back-fill and cover material are also more cost-effective, since tires can be shredded on-site instead of hauling in other fill materials.