Recycling Tires: Why Bother?
In the United States, more than half the rubber used each year is made into tires. The U.S. generates approximately one scrap tire for every person each year. 30 million of these tires are retreaded leaving the rest to be managed.
Besides this yearly generation, there is an estimated 2 to 3 billion that have accumulated over the years and are contained in various stockpiles. Recycling tires present a special difficulty because of their weight and bulk. Disposal also presents other difficulties because tires are made from a variety of materials. Of the total of recovered tires, 60 percent is used as TDF or tire derived fuel. Scrap tires are a good source of fuel because they have a high heating value and produce low amounts of sulphur when burned.
How Can Recycling Tires Benefit Us? When tires are recycled, pollution and energy consumption are reduced. The most beneficial use for old tires is to find new uses for these old though still valuable materials. The next ideally beneficial use is reusing the old tires by retreading them.
Reducing tires to new material by grinding them is also a desirable option since the material still exists to be used to manufacture a new product. Large energy savings can also be realized when tire chips are burned as fuel. However, this precludes any other recycling since the material is obviously consumed. Rubber is also used as playground mulch, roadbed material, running tracks, and walkways.
There is also some evidence of reduced injuries and reduced vehicle maintenance but there is no adequate documentation for this. The biggest environmental benefit may be the reduced mining for traditional materials like sand and gravel.