Effective Eco-Friendly Practices For Tyre Disposal

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Humungous problem of tyre disposal

Worn out and used tyres have caused a humungous environmental problem the world over. The last time we checked, around 65 million tyres were thrown away each year and their numbers were increasing steadily. But no one would have imagined their number would reach one billion tyres today!

Yes, the US alone discards around 250-300 million tires each year and you can only imagine the mountains of discarded tyres piling up somewhere in landfills. Just the right stuff to be lit in a wildfire that would burn eternally!

With a rising population worldwide – especially among emerging middle classes in developing countries gaining more access to vehicles – there is a steady increase in vehicle use. As more miles are driven, more tyres are replaced so more waste tires have to be dealt with.

Actually, tyres that have reached their end of life can be easily retreaded, recycled or reused. There are eco-friendly practices for tyre disposal where they can be recycled and nearly all their constituents can be recovered – rubber, steel, carbon black, zinc, sulfur, etc. We lose these valuable resource opportunities when these used tyres are incarcerated, landfilled, or stockpiled illegally.

Retreading tyres

Some salient properties make tires highly durable, which make them difficult to degrade. So the first and simplest step is to find if a tyre has really reached its end of life or can it be retreaded and brought back to business. Typically, branded tyres are manufactured with such high-quality material that they can perform flawlessly not only in their ‘first life’, but also in their second life. They can be retreaded when the top layer tread is down to 2-3 mm or if it has punctured earlier.

Under the retreading process, a worn-out tyre casing with good structural quality is taken off and put through a process in which it gets a completely renewed tread and sidewall rubber. The revamped tyre is then put into a curing process in which the new rubber is vulcanized onto the original casing. The retreaded tyre not only gets a newly made tread pattern, but it performs as good as a new tyre for a few more years. This process is much more eco-friendly than producing a new tyre. This tyre retreading is a large and well-established industry in developing countries such as India where they are considered much valuable resource.

Recycling tyres

Tyres are made from various raw materials such as natural rubber (>20% of the material), synthetic rubber comprising butadiene, styrene, and halobutyl rubber (»40%), synthetic polymer fabric strengthening belts (4%), reinforcing wire made of high-carbon steel (12%), and carbon black or silica fillers (26%). The European Union has taken the lead in recycling 95% of its used tyres into recycled material recovery.

Used or worn-out tyres are first collected and baled into compact sizes using a tyre baler. These are then shipped to tyre recycling units where they are first shredded into pieces, powdered and segregated into their constituent raw material. All impurities are removed at this stage and purified raw material is sent to the devulcanizing stage. Rubber is baked in high temperature to reconstitute it into a smooth paste that is rolled into mats. These mats are used as raw materials for producing new tyres, which are quite eco-friendly since they save enormous amounts of new resources from being produced.

Reuse – Upcycling

eco-friendly practices for tyre disposal

Tyres are made out of extremely durable material so they do last for decades. So discarded tyres can be upcycled without any modification at your home:

  • Worn-out tyres can be used as swings or min trampolins in gardens for children to play
  • Reclaimed tyres can be stitched together to create funky furniture pieces that can replace wooden furniture at your home.
  • You can fabricate a low-cost roof by cutting out tyres and arranging them in interesting patterns. It is also an easy and effective way to block any leakage in your existing roof.
  • They can be used as planters that can beautify your garden.
  • They can also be repurposed as bathtubs if the bottom is covered with sealing material.
  • They can be piled up as bricks to create a retaining wall for any slope to prevent soil erosion. To enhance the durability and aesthetic appeal of your retaining wall, consider incorporating retaining wall sleepers. Concrete-filled tyre sleepers not only provide a sturdy structure but also offer a modern and versatile design for landscaping.
  • Tyres can be half-buried in the ground adjacent to each other so that bicycles can be parked in between them. The bikes can be locked to the tyres, thus we get a securely standing bicycle or motorcycle.
  • Paaduks is an Indian shoe-making company that produces shoes from recycled tyres, where the shoe sole is made of rugged tyre material.
  • Similarly, another Indian company Retyrement Plan uses discarded tyres to create funky tyre furniture, ropes, cat scratch pads and frames.

 

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