Published Oct 20, 2014
Every year, over one billion tires are produced around the world. Since many tires have an estimated useful life of less than 50,000 miles, the number of tires in landfills is increasing exponentially. Until tire recycling is required by law across the globe, the number of tires in landfills will continue to increase.
Tire recycling provides a number of benefits for the environment. Since the average tire contains over 20 different materials, allowing these chemicals to contaminate the environment can be very dangerous.
Some of the binder materials used in the production of tires are implicated in groundwater contamination. These compounds, known as aromatic hydrocarbons, can increase the risk of cancer and other serious illnesses.
If tires are buried in a landfill and not recycled, the binder materials found in these tires can degrade over a period of years, polluting the soil. Whenever it rains, these chemicals can travel down into the soil, polluting water sources for several miles surrounding the landfill. Any wells located within two miles of a landfill may end up with polluted water.
In addition to the risk of groundwater contamination, a failure to properly recycle tires can also be a significant fire hazard. Since some of the materials used in the production of tires are flammable, any spark or flame near a tire landfill can cause a fire that is very difficult to put out. Unlike a traditional wildfire, the fumes from burning tires can be extremely dangerous and can increase the risk of lung cancer.
Fortunately, there are a number of effective ways that tires can be recycled. One of the first groups to adopt tire recycling was the trucking industry. Since the average long-haul truck can travel more than 200,000 miles a year, tires need to be replaced on a regular basis. To reduce the amount of time between tire replacements, many trucking industries used recycled tires. Instead of purchasing a new tire when an old one has worn down, it’s possible to glue a new traction layer directly onto the old tire. This recycling process allows for more than 80 percent of a tire to be reused.
In addition, tires can be recycled for uses outside of the trucking industry. For example, shredded tires can be used in the production of house insulation, walking trails, shoes, wire insulation, piping and much more.
Tires are an essential part of the modern world. By finding effective ways to recycle used tires, it’s possible for companies to reduce pollution and save money.