Author – Pranjali Rautela
When humans invented the wheel in the stone age, they would have imagined about ‘black contamination’. However, today huge tyre-dumps have piled up outside cities since we don’t know how to deal with scrap tyres. Around 65 million scrap tyres are thrown away each year and their number is increasing everyday. These tyre graveyards mar the landscape and get converted into toxic waste lands. As the tyres degrade in the environment, they release toxins that contaminate the land and water. Further, the dumps accumulate water that becomes the breeding ground for mosquitoes and rodents. When exposed to summer heat, tyres may catch fire that is almost impossible to stop.
Old tires are retreaded to be reused but they cannot be recycled to form new tires, because the proportion of natural rubber recovered from them is just about 10%. Although they would lost their elasticity and strength, that doesn’t mean this scrap material is useless. You can easily utilize these scrap tyres to create some amazing and cost-effective do-it-yourself recycling projects:
You don’t have to buy a clichéd bamboo swing for your child that doesn’t carry a strand of creativity. Instead, you can use those extra tyres lying around in your garage and craft a creative swing!
Reclaimed tyres can stitched together to create funky furniture pieces that can replace wooden furniture at your home. There are coffee tables, chairs and even sofa sets made of tyres. Such furniture are not only extraordinary but also gives a garage feel to your backyard.
For all the bike riders who are not respected at parking lots, there is an artistic and cost-effective solution. Tyres can be half-buried in the ground adjacent to each other and the bikes can be locked to the tyres. Thus we get a securely standing bicycle or motorcycle.
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.
With a rise in awareness about green buildings, there is interest about recycled tyre flooring. A parquet flooring can be made by cutting tyre tubes into smaller pieces and grounding into fine powder. The tyre Parquet floor looks stylish when you color it in a shade of your choice. It lasts for years without scratches and requires no maintenance.
Bags and wallets made of recycled tyres last virtually forever. Old inner tubes can form a durable layer and such items don’t develop holes easily due to the ruggedness of the material.
Further scrap tyres can be used to generate fuel. An average tyre contains five gallons of oil and can generate comparable energy to crude oil or coal. 45% of all scrap tyres are burnt for energy and 40% of derived fuel is burnt in the cement kilns, paper factories and electronic industries. However, directly burning tyres produces highly toxic fumes, so that must be converted through plastic pyrolysis.
Inspiring Recycling Tyres Stories From India
Paaduks is an Indian shoe making company that came up with an interesting business idea of making shoes from recycled tyres. Jay Rege and his wife Jothsna Rege stumbled upon an article that discussed the possible reuse of scrap tyres as footwear soles. So they started Paaduks in 2013, whose name is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Paadukas’ meaning footwear. Spurred by the idea of upcycling rubber, Jay went to Chembur, Mumbai in search of people who would help him manufacture such footwear, since it produces 70-80% of the total footwear in India. Jay met Nagraj, a cobbler in Chembur, who came forward to help him in his venture.
They procured used tyres from the scrap market at INR20-25 per kilo. In the beginning, they faced grave problems in handling truck tyres and hence have moved on to using aircraft tyres that are procured at INR40-50 per kilo. They make the footwear with natural fabric such as cotton and jute and the sole is made from upcycled rubber. Today, Paaduks sell around 700-900 pairs a year and are improving their sales every year. The shoe sole is made of the rugged tyre material, which is hard to penetrate and thus helps avoid injury on pothole filled Indian roads. Paaduks cost around INR700-1500, but it is a onetime investment, since they are highly durable. By buying Paaduks, you can help poor cobblers since they are directly sourced from them.
The Retyrement Plan
Anu Tandon Vieira came up with this perfect retirement plan that involves a lot of discarded tyres! Being fine art graduate, she believed in breathing life into scrap and regenerating it into a designer product. With the use of tyres, plastic, bamboo and cane she makes products like tyre furniture, ropes, cat scratch pads and frames. She collects scraps of old clothes from factories and looms for producing such eco-friendly products. Most of her products involve at least one scrap tyre!
Anu Tandon Vieira has involved the local weavers and traditional craftsmen in her project of making a living out of ‘useless scrap’. These local weavers work for around 8 days on a single piece and produce a masterpiece with the correct texture and the best combination of colours. The pieces can be customized; each piece is unique. They are priced between INR5,000 and INR20,000.
Tyre recycling ideas like Paaduks and The Retyrement Plan are not only helping in reducing the carbon footprint, but are also addressing a socio-economic problem. They are trying to constantly make a positive difference in somebody’s life.