What is Rubber Recycling?

Rubbers have become a mainstay in all our endeavors today. In fact, there is a whole industry dedicated to the production of rubber. Well, this isn’t surprising. After all, over 279 million tires get discarded each year. The funny thing is that this is not the only area where rubber gets applied to.

Now, while rubber production can be synthetic – through unsaturated carbon – it can also be natural. In turn, the natural process maximizes latex present in some plants. You can bet that the continuous exploitation of plants is sure to affect the environment.

tire-rubber-recycling

As a result, one thing that has become prominent is rubber recycling. It allows us to preserve latex-producing plants. Even more, it ensures that over 279 million used tires do not end up in landfills. However, there is hardly much awareness of rubber recycling.

As such, in this article. We will explain what rubber recycling is all about. Then, we will discuss the process of recycling. Afterward, we end with the benefits you stand to gain from it.

Enjoy!

Explaining Rubber Recycling

Now straight unto business. One thing that is important for you to understand is rubber recycling. However, while it seems like a recent development, this is far from reality. The fact is that rubber recycling has its first emergence as far back as rubbers’ industrial utilization.

This is because around the 1900s, the cost of rubbers was as considerable as that of silver. Precisely, it was quite valuable, which made its reuse cost-effective and business smart. Luckily for producers, rubber’s cost significantly reduced in the middle 20th century thanks to synthetic rubber, oil imports at a cheaper rate, and steel-belted tires. Unfortunately, this saw a reduction in the need to recycle tires.

This remained the case until the disposal of tire became an environmental issue. And various legislations mandated the safe disposal of used tires through recycling. It is in this light that rubber recycling became a prominent discourse again.

So, what is this rubber recycling? This refers to a process whereby used tires get processed for new use. Precisely, rather than have them end up in landfills, various companies process them. Then, apply them to a wide variety of other products.

For instance, they are sometimes used in civil engineering and construction application. In other tines, they are used as crumbs rubbers that fill up virgin rubber. They also get used as playground covers. You can even use them on sporting surfaces.

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Step-by-Step Process of Rubber Recycling

Now that you know what rubber recycling is all about, this is next. You might be wondering how the whole process of recycling occurs. We’ve got you covered.

Recycling occurs through a step by step process. Here’s what you need to know.

Step 1: Collection of Rubber

The first step is the collection of rubber products that you intend to recycle. In most cases, this is usually in the form of a tire, the major rubber product. In some cases, these materials come from landfills. In some other cases, people deposit it and send it to the recycling center.

Step 2: Shredding the Rubber

The next step involves shredding the rubber into pieces. Typically, a machine performs this function. Typically, most recycling companies use rotary shear shredder. It comes with two counter-rotating barbs that operate at high torque and low speed. It breaks it down into pieces and makes it easier for processing.

Step 3: Sorting

While it is easier to call the next step sorting, it involves removing textile fibers and steel fibers from the rubber. Typically, this occurs during the shredding process. And it occurs using magnets.

These magnets draw out the steel fibers from the whole bunch. On the other hand, there is a complex system that removes polyester fibers. This includes shaking screens, low vacuum suction, and wind sifters. Note that this process is very important as they constitute 30 percent of the whole bunch.

Step 4: Devulcanization

The next step involves making tire mulch from the old tires. The goal is to get the raw material to make new tire materials. However, keep in mind that this process does not cause the rubber to lose its insulation and elasticity capacity. This process then extends to the grounding of the mulch to granules.

Other Processes:

Beyond this, there are other options for the processing of the rubber material. They include:

Freezing

This involves the freezing of the rubber to process its recycling. Keep in mind that while this process is less common, it’s still as effective as Devulcanization. In this process, the rubber gets frozen using liquid nitrogen. Then, it gets processed in mills where it is grounded to create granules. These granules then become useful to create new rubber products.

Tire Pyrolysis 

This involves a melting process without oxygen present. The goal is to melt rubber while avoiding the possibility of combustion. In turn, this ensures that toxic fumes do not emerge. The process involves decomposing rubber into oil, gases, and char.

Precisely, the rubber gets placed in a reactor. Then, the reactor gets powered by coal, charcoal, gas, wood, and fuel. The reactor then softens the rubber breaking down the polymers into little molecules.

These molecules then vaporize. These gases coming out of the reactor then enter a condensing system that transforms the gas into liquid oil. Other gases that don’t liquify then goes back to power the combustion system.

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Precisely, the outcome of this process is fuel oil. In turn, you can apply it to various industries such as iron, steel, ceramics, and chemical industries, among others.

Benefits of Recycling Rubber

Now that you grasp what rubber recycling is all about, we bet you have one more question. And that is what you and the environment stand to gain from rubber recycling. After all, we are usually driven to engage in only beneficial activities.

Luckily for you, you have got a wide range of reasons to engage in rubber recycling. This is because it comes with a considerable number of economic and environmental advantages. However, do not just take our words for it. Here are some of the benefits that come with rubber recycling.

1. Consumption of Less Energy

With each regular production of rubber, we consume a significant amount of energy. In turn, this means that there is an increased likelihood of greenhouse gas emissions that affects the environment. With over 279 million tires discarded each year, we can assume that just as much, if not more, get produced each year.

Without a doubt, the constant emission of greenhouse gases will continue to damage our environment. And before you know it, we have an uninhabitable environment. Luckily, this is something recycling can avoid.

This is because the process of making new products from recycled materials is far easier. In turn, we consume less energy during the production process, which ensures there is less greenhouse gas emission. For instance, recycling four tires result in a reduction of carbon dioxide emission by around 323 pounds. You should know, this is equal to an 18-gallon tank of gasoline.

There’s also less carbon footprint with recycling, up to 20 times less. Without a doubt, recycling benefits our environment considerably.

2. Less Pressure on Natural Rubber

Another advantage of rubber recycling is the protection of the environment. The reality is that without recycling, we keep making recourse to latex producing plants. In turn, you can count on widespread pressure on these plants. Without any doubt, never has constant recourse to a plant been good news.

One benefit that comes with rubber recycling is that we have less reason to do this. By recycling already existing products, we have adequate raw material to maintain production. We can always combine it with synthetic rubbers to ensure that we get the required number of rubber products that we need.

3. Conserves Space in Landfills

Like we already mentioned, millions of rubber products end up in landfills each year. In fact, as little as 276 million goes to the landfills. Now when we consider the fact that a significant amount of these products are tires, one thing becomes clear. Rubber products end up taking a considerable amount of space in landfills.

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This is one area where recycling becomes beneficial. It significantly reduces the number of rubber products that end up in landfills. In turn, it ensures that there is adequate space for other products that we can’t actually recycle.

4. Reduces Environmental Pollution

As an extension to creating more space in landfills, recycling rubber products also help reduce pollution. Precisely, the considerable number of products that end up in landfills pollutes the environment.

We have cases whereby due to sunlight, these rubber products denigrate and begin to release harmful toxins. Even more, they can always catch fire. And when this occurs, what we have is a case of thick smoke escaping into the environment. No one needs to tell us that this is a classic case of pollution.

Also, during rainfall, these tire materials will house water, which can breed diseases. Alternatively, they can also travel into water bodies and contaminate them. In turn, they harm aquatic life and the quality of aquatic bodies. These and many more are what occurs when we keep dumping rubber materials in landfills.

However, with recycling, we can avoid this. And this is what makes it so beneficial.

5. Creates New Products

Another reason we have got to be grateful for rubber recycling is that it aids in creating beneficial products. Today, recycled rubber products have become useful in a wide range of areas.

For instance, recycled tires produced fuel. In fact, this fuel is far more efficient than the regular fuel from coal. This is because there is less harmful emission with it. We can get playground turf, railroad ties, flooring, and rubberized asphalt from recycled rubber in the same vein.

Now, the great news is that it is just not about getting products. It is more of getting better and beneficial products. For instance, most of the results from recycled rubber represent better products than their regular alternatives. This becomes even more evident when you consider that rubberized aspects provide increased skid resistance and durability than regular paving materials.

Conclusion

There is nothing special about rubber recycling. At least we have established that by showing what it is all about. We have also discussed the process through which your rubber products get recycled. However, when it comes to its benefits, we have got to say that it is special. This is thanks to the wide range of economic and environmental advantages that comes with it. We have also discussed that in this article.

So, now that you know better, we expect you to maximize this information. So, prioritize rubber recycling and keep your environment safe. It is the least you owe the world.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.