End of Life Tires: What are they and what’s their harm?
Over the last 100 years, more than 4 billion tires have ended up in landfills or stockpiles. And that number is increasing exponentially, driven by the growing number of middle-class families around the world who are gaining the ability to purchase cars.
Current end-of-life tire (ELT) markets – either tire recycling or repurposing solutions – are simply not able to keep up. Tire waste isn’t as easy to address as other forms of waste like plastic, and the ramifications are far worse than that of food waste. But as the world sharpens its focus on the issue of climate change, governments and private businesses alike want to find a solution.
Why are tires more harmful than typical consumer waste?
By design, tires are meant to be reliable, durable, able to withstand the elements and keep us safe on the road. But once they reach the end of their lives, we’re left with massive pieces of rubber that are non-biodegradable, flammable, and laden with toxic substances that leak chemicals and heavy metals into the ground, and emit hazardous fumes into our air.
Unfortunately, since current recycling methods aren’t up to the task, many ELTs end up in landfills or burnt, which amplifies the hazardous, disease-causing fumes.
Why are current recycling and disposal methods falling short?
Inefficient recycling infrastructure
Because of safety and performance considerations, recycling tires back into their original form isn’t a viable option. So currently, the most common options for ELTs are cutting, shredding, punching, or stamping them into tire chips, shreds, crumb rubber, or various rubber products. But worldwide there are only a few thousand machines that can do this, and they are large, expensive, and cumbersome to deploy. Then, transporting those shreds to facilities to be recycled is a logistical nightmare.
Others have tried to break down tire materials with heat, but are then plagued with low efficiency and low-quality byproducts.
The tire profile itself
The large size and hollow shape of tires create problems. Rubber tires are heavy and difficult to transport. This creates a burden when it comes to transporting tire waste to a recycling plant. Or, if the waste is instead sent to a landfill, it can take up to 80 years for one tire to decompose, all the while emitting hazardous fumes.
A lack of regulation or guidance
As it currently stands, laws are inconsistent – or in some cases nonexistent – when it comes to regulating ELT disposal. Some states have made progress to encourage and regulate recycling, but without uniform laws or allocated funding to solve the issue, there is little incentive to make tire recycling feasible.
But at MRT, we believe that ELTs have potential.
Not only can our TireHog technology keep tire waste out of our air and soil, but we can repurpose it into high-quality, in-demand byproducts that generate revenue.
Contact us to learn more about our TireHog.