As concerns about limited planetary resources increase, certain industries are getting an unexpected boost. The tire recycling industry is one such industry.
The demand for both types of recycled rubber, both natural and synthetic, is strong and only expected to keep growing. In this post, learn more about the growing tire recycling industry.
The Life of a Typical Tire
With more than a billion new tires rolling off production lines each year, that adds up to a tremendous number of tires that will eventually need to be rehired, reused or recycled somehow. The average family/commuter vehicle will need a tire change every 50,000 miles or so, or about every 4 to 5 years.
This adds up to over 300 million tires that end up getting discarded every single year. But what many people don’t realize is that, once that tire has been cleaned and had any internal metal removed, the basic rubber structure has many more years of useful life left in it!
Happily, statistics now show that more than 100 million of those tires enter the rubber recycling industry annually. This number is only projected to grow as more industries realize that products produced from recycled rubber tires are cheaper, safer, and more durable and resilient than many of the new comparable products in use today.
How the Tire Recycling Industry Has Evolved
From a historical perspective, the industry’s initial major limitations have been threefold:
– Developing a strong demand for recycled rubber.
– Developing more powerful shredders to economically process recycled rubber.
– Overcoming state by state regulatory hurdles for preparing and using recycled rubber.
As each hurdle has been tackled and overcome, the auto recycling industry has found increased demand for recycled rubber tires across a variety of industries, some quite surprising!
To date, recycled rubber products are used in these major areas:
– Civil engineering projects. Constructing roads and landfills, creating leach fields for septic tanks, steel manufacturing plants, general construction uses.
– Tire-based fuels. Fuel in the form of a coal alternative for use in kilns, paper mills, industrial factories and other areas.
– Ground rubber uses. More rubber products, landscaping mulch, rubber-modified asphalt products, crafting, shoe soles and rubber-punch products.
– Recreational uses. Gym mats, horse stall mats, sports field resurfacing, backdrops at shooting ranges, tracks for runners, synthetic grass turf, playground covers.
– New (recycled) auto parts. Ground rubber can be used to manufacture brake pads, belts, gaskets, auto floor mats, seals, muffler hangers, dock bumpers and – best of all – new tires!
Safe Rubber Recycling Practices
As the rubber tire recycling industry continues to grow and evolve, concerns remain regarding the development of safe rubber recycling practices. If tires are not handled properly, they can cause harm to the environment as well as health risks.
For this reason, states and tire manufacturers often impose some small restrictions on tire recycling to encourage safe handling and recycling practices. The most common restriction is the requirement to pay a small fee to drop off a tire for recycling.
For example, in many areas it is no longer permitted to drop off used tires at landfills. This is because tires decompose slowly (up to 80 years per tire) and often release toxins in the surrounding soil and water. They can also hold water, which can encourage mosquitos to breed, including Zika mosquitos and small nesting rodents.
Different localities have different guidelines for recycling tires. In some cities, it is possible to earn money by recycling tires, such as by turning them in to tire retreading companies, which often pay cash up front for recycled tires.
In some cases, the potential to earn extra cash has led to the rise of a smaller sister industry, the tire recycling company.
Overall, the future looks bright indeed for the tire recycling industry. The demand for recycled rubber products continues to grow, and is likely to grow even more in the future as new uses are introduced. Best of all, the goal of the tire recycling industry is in perfect alignment with the growing focus to reduce industry’s carbon footprint worldwide.