Environmental Benefits of Tire Recycling

It is estimated that there are more than a billion passenger vehicles in the world. Imagine the number of tires that will be eventually disposed of. In the United States alone, an estimated 300 million tires are discarded every year. Where do you think those tires would end up?

With the size, volume, and inherent durability of tires getting rid of them is no walk in the park. Fortunately, tire recycling has made substantial improvements in the past several years thanks to innovative technologies.

The next time you are to replace your car tires, make it a point to recycle them. Those tires may be used as a planter in your yard. If you can’t think of a way to recycle tires, you can take them to a local tire retailer or contact your city’s waste management office.

Tire recycling has been beneficial to the environment in more ways than one. Among the many environmental benefits of this process are:

Conserve landfill space

Because of their round and hollow shape, tires can take up significant space in landfills. According to Popular Mechanics, around 11 percent of old tires are dumped into landfills where it would take hundreds of years for the rubber to decompose. And because of their size, tires can easily fill up an infinite resource like landfill space.

With tire recycling, landfill space can be conserved. Big and bulky tires are eliminated, leaving more space in landfills for things that cannot be easily recycled.

Additionally, the elimination of tires in landfills can prevent water pollution. It is said that tires can take up to 75 percent of the airspace in landfills. The void space in tires holds large amounts of methane gas which causes the rubber to bubble to the surface. This can damage the landfill liners designed to prevent contaminants from causing pollution to local surface and groundwater.

Prevent diseases caused by pests

Discarded old tires left in backyards, empty lots, and riverbeds are not only an ugly sight; these also serve as homes to rodents and insects that can carry diseases.

Like most unused structures such as unused vehicles, old tires make good homes for rodents. Tires give warmth to rats and mice, so you should not be surprised to realize that the old tires you left in your backyard could be where those household pests are nesting in. Rats also use a tower of tires to take a path into homes where they can ravage for food.

Rodents carry numerous diseases that can be passed on to humans. Rodent urine, for instance, can cause leptospirosis or Weil’s disease. This ailment can bring about symptoms such as life-threatening meningitis, kidney failure, and liver damage. Salmonellosis is another disease that can be passed on to humans by rodents, particularly when a person gets in contact with droppings or feces of rats or mice. Other ailments that may be passed on from rodents to humans are rat-bite fever and Rickettsial diseases.

Insects, particularly mosquitoes, can also breed in old tires. There are three main reasons why mosquitoes breed in old tires. One, unused tires can easily be filled with water which can be a good breeding ground for female mosquitoes. Moreover, tires can become filled with leaves that mosquitoes can feed on.

It should be noted that both female and male mosquitoes eat plant matter like plant leaves for energy. Female mosquitoes, meanwhile, suck blood for breeding purposes.

Finally, tires are thick enough to provide insulation and protection for the eggs of mosquitoes. It is not surprising, therefore, that those insects love to breed in old tires. Mosquitoes are notorious, too, for carrying countless diseases. From Dengue fever to Zika to Yellow Fever to Malaria, the list of mosquito-borne diseases is long.

With tire recycling, you can prevent old tires from becoming homes to rodents and mosquitoes and consequently, eliminate the risks of those pests from spreading various diseases.

Prevent pollution caused by tire fires

Old tires sitting in empty lots are also prone to fires. Accidents, arson, or lightning, among others, can cause these tires to catch fire.

Tire fires have two types, both of which have damaging effects on the environment. The first type, slow-burning fire or pyrolysis, results to smoke carrying toxic materials. The second type is a fast-burning fire which contains harmful elements like sulfur dioxide and Carmon dioxide.

Putting off tire fire is no easy task. Allowing tires to burn themselves out means letting substantial amounts of smoke, soot, and toxic gasses to damage the environment. Smothering the fire with dirt but this can also cause the tires to smolder underground for many years. Using a combination of water and foaming agent may put the fire out but this may contaminate groundwater.

Recycling tires, in short, will mean that fewer tires in the world end up as fire hazards.

Create new products

Tire recycling can also turn scrap tires into useful products. On the industrial side, tire-derived fuel is a by-product of tire recycling that releases few harmful emissions. Compared to normal fuel from coal, tire-derived fuel is more energy efficient. It is used in cement kilns and paper mills as a supplemental fuel. It can improve boiler efficiency, lower production costs, and reduce air emissions.

Other industries also extract and reuse materials from old tires such as steel and nylon. Recycled steel produced by tire recycling plants is brought and reused by steelworks firms. Nylon, meanwhile, is used as noise insulation in industrial plants.

There are other useful products created from scrap tires. Old tires can be reused into rubberized asphalt which offers more skid resistance compared to normal paving materials. DIY crafters, on the other hand, reused old tires into garden planters, outdoor furniture, and home playground equipment.

Conclusion

Indeed, our society has found different ways to recycle one of the toughest everyday materials today. Tires don’t have to end up in landfills because there are many ways to recycle and reuse them. Recycling tires is good for our environment.

So, the next time you are to replace your car tires, make it a point to recycle them. Those tires may be used as a planter in your yard. If you can’t think of a way to recycle tires, you can take them to a local tire retailer or contact your city’s waste management office.

About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the Founder of EcoMENA, and an international consultant, advisor, ecopreneur and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biomass energy, biogas, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. He has participated in numerous conferences and workshops as chairman, session chair, keynote speaker and panelist. Salman is the Editor-in-Chief of EcoMENA, and is a professional environmental writer with more than 300 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability in different parts of the world. Salman Zafar can be reached at salman@ecomena.org or salman@bioenergyconsult.com
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