Much like humans, tires have a life span. When they become so old, worn out, and irreparable, we often dump them in landfills. Unfortunately, this leads to serious environmental issues.
As such, there have been more efforts to reduce the piles of tires in landfills. And that is why some people now reuse waste tires for various purposes at home. For example, you can use waste tires as gyms in the jungle.
Regardless, at the very frontline of all these efforts is tire recycling. Now, you are wondering what this is all about. Luckily for you, that is what this article is all about.
In this post, we will discuss the meaning of tire recycling. We will then address the steps involved in tire recycling and the benefits you and your environment get to derive by recycling tires.
What Is Tire Recycling?
Tire recycling, also known as rubber recycling, refers to the process of recycling used vehicle tires that can no longer be used on the vehicles due to wear and tear or irreparable damage. Used tires are among the most problematic and challenging sources of solid waste.
This involves the processing of waste tires for reuse. Typically, this category of tires, also known as end-of-life tires, are no longer functional. And this is due to damage and wear.
Tire recycling then involves the conversion of waste tires into materials that we can use to create new products. At this point, you may ask: why do we need to recycle tires?
Well, this is due to their increasing numbers and how fast some tires reach their end-of-life. In turn, this means that more tires are getting into landfills. And, as you already know, when we talk about landfills, we are discussing more pressing issues.
We are worried about environmental pollution, threats to marine life, global warming, and many more issues that arise from landfills. So, to avoid these, it seems like a good idea to recycle.
You should know that every year, over one billion scrap tires get generated. In fact, in the U.S. alone, there were about 249.4 million waste tires around a couple of years back. And the only way to get things done the right way is through recycling.
In fact, history shows that recycling tires have always been a smart move. For instance, a couple of decades back many people did not own an automobile vehicle. Yet, piles of waste tires were over one billion globally.
However, as of today, when many people already owned one automobile or the other, the pile of waste globally contained only about 60 million scrap tires. And this is thanks to tire recycling. So, yes, tire recycling is a good choice; it has always been.
You even be more convinced when you realize rubbers were once as expensive as silver. And the only economical way to keep up production at the time was through recycling.
How Are Tires Recycled? (Step by Step Process of Tire Recycling)
Now tire recycling sounds like a very good idea. However, it doesn’t come easy. While tire recycling is widespread, it takes loads of effort.
So, are you thinking about how your tire gets recycled? Here is a step-by-step guide that shows you how
Step 1: Collection of Waste Tires
As you already know, the collection of waste is the first step in any recycling process. At this stage, individuals and businesses dealing in tire recycling collect tires.
Sometimes, individuals who collect scrap tires and send them to points of the collection get paid. Typically, these scrap tires get moved to their collection points once they reach a particular number.
Step 2: Tire Processing (Shredding)
The first step after taking waste tires to processing plants is to cut them into small pieces. The idea here is to reduce the tire’s size into a material that one can handle easily.
With the help of tire shredders, we shred these tires or cut them using the rotating shafts. Eventually, this stage produces pieces of tire shreds of 2-inch length. At the end of this stage, you then derive raw materials that you can use for fuel.
Also, tire processing can take two forms. And that is through mechanical systems or cryogenic systems. So, how do they work?
The mechanical system involves scraping scrap tires into smaller chips at ambient temperature. Typically, you place the rubber shreds into a granulator with screens to track the size the shred gets reduced to.
On the other hand, cryogenic systems shutter rubber size into smaller chips by freezing scrap tires at low temperatures. With the use of liquid nitrogen, you can super-cool these tire shreds. After this, pass the brittle and cold rubber through hammer mills to shatter the brittle rubber into tiny particles.
You will then proceed to remove steel using strong magnets. Also, there is a need to separate the fiber from other constituents using air classifiers. Once you do this, you will have obtained recycled rubber that is clean and ready for other products.
Step 3: Steel Liberation
Here, you process and prepare tired shreds for elimination and separate tire wires from rubbers. This step involves the separation of fiber and screening, of course.
Steel wires, which give resilience and strength to tires, get removed and recycled. You can then take these steel wires to roll mills to be used in manufacturing new wheels.
The leftover rubber is then used as field turfs on playgrounds – called rubber mulch.
Step 4: Screening Stage
The stage after separating wires from rubber is screening. The gist here is to carefully observe the rubber and ensure no wire is left in the rubber. You will essentially screen large volumes and sizes of rubbers with no wires and sort them according to their sizes.
It also involves the elimination of any unwanted substances and reducing the sizes of large rubbers and unwanted leftover pieces.
Step 5: Cleaning Stage
The cleaning stage is the penultimate stage. This involves a thorough cleaning of the screened rubber. Here, you use water and cleaning agents in a thorough cleaning process.
Step 6: Packaging and Transporting Stage
This marks the final stage of recycling tires. The clean rubber derived from the cleaning staged gets packaged. It then gets delivered to factories that need them as raw materials for production in their respective processing plants. Examples of these factories include manufacturers of rubber shoes and playground turfs.
How to Dispose of Old Tires?
There are several ways to dispose of your tires. Here are some of them.
1. Take Them to Play Parks, Sports Clubs, Or Zoos
Do not throw that old tire on landfills or incinerators. Instead, you can take them to playparks, sports clubs, and zoos around you. For instance, animals like monkeys, big cats, little monkeys, and hosts of others find tires a perfect plaything in zoos.
Also, athletes, gymnasts, and military personnel use tires for exercise. This is a great way to reuse tires. So, donate them to these individuals or groups.
2. Upcycle Them
This is an exciting option for those who feel creative or crafty. You can use tires for DIY projects. DIY means do it yourself.
So, you can make sculptures, artworks, and crafts from old tires. You will agree that this is a way to increase a tire’s lifespan, generally regarded as waste.
3. Exchange Them at Your Garage
Typically, car servicing and tire fitting companies can help you change your old tires into new ones. This is very affordable and still covers a wide range of costs, including transporting, storing, administering, and contracting with waste carriers. It is no doubt a very worthy option to dispose of your old tires.
4. Take Them to Your Local Recycling Center
You can take tires to your household waste recycling center but check with your local council first. There might be a limit to how many tires you can take, and a small charge. Use the recycling locator on the Recycle Now website to see the nearest recycling center to take your old tires.
Benefits of Tire Recycling
You have heard so much about tire recycling. And now you are wondering what you stand to gain. Well, recycling waste tires offers immeasurable benefits. And not just to only you. It comes with various benefits to the world.
Are you still not convinced? Here a few of the benefits that come with tire recycling.
1. Creates New Products
You can recycle waste tires into useful products. Particularly, you can derive fuel that is even more efficient than fuel derived from coal, from recycled tires.
Rubberized asphalt, playground turf, railroad ties, and flooring are examples of products you can make by recycling waste tires. It is interesting to note that tire recycled products are often better than normal alternatives. A good example is a rubberized asphalt, which is both more durable and provides better skid resistance than the normal ones.
Many DIY projects are proving the many benefits tire recycling offers. Garden planters, outdoor furniture, playground equipment, fiber steel, and nylon can be derived from recycling tires.
Overall, when you recycle tires, you’re creating an opportunity for new products. Even more, the production process is less cumbersome, meaning cheaper products.
2. Reduces Volume of Tire on Landfill Space
Because of their large sizes and hollow shapes, tires take up plenty of space in landfills. By recycling tires, we are saving up space on landfills for other difficult waste recycling.
Besides, tires are nonbiodegradable, that is, they don’t break down into their natural forms. This can lead to environmental concerns such as water and air pollution, blocking of drainage systems, and causing harm to animals. A reduced volume of tires on landfills will automatically reduce this challenge.
3. Helps to Prevent Diseases
When you discard old tires at home, you are providing an enabling environment for disease-carrying rodents. Waste tires accumulate stagnant water, which breeds mosquito and causes malaria, amongst others. Tires are also potential homes for snakes, rodents, and other vectors.
Therefore, taking these tires for recycling helps you prevent these diseases. You clear your home of unwanted visitors and stay safe.
4. Prevents Fires and Pollution
We must also mention that while tires serve as fuel, burning them leads to serious environmental pollution. Apart from being difficult to quench, they produce black, thick smoke. This, in turn, contaminates soil and water in the surroundings, causing serious damage to marine life, soil nutrients, and agriculture for many years.
When we recycle these tires instead, we are significantly reducing the potentials of damage of this scale. Rather than have your old tires lying around, recycle them at low cost and save your environment from severe pollutions.
Some of the Tire Derived Products
Used or worn-out tires have a number of uses. Although most worn-out tires are burnt for fuel, scrap tires still have other significant uses as can be viewed below:
An entire home can be built using whole tires by simply ramming them together filed with earth and later covering them with concrete identified as earth ships. Used tires can also be used in different civil engineering applications for example embankments and subgrade fill.
They can be used for bridge abutments and as backfill for walls. Used tires are also utilized as barriers for instance collision reduction, blasting mats, rainwater runoff and wave action that protects marshes and piers as well as used as sound barriers between residences and roadways.
Used In Apparel Products
The process of recycling rubber through stamping and cutting gives large pieces that can be used in the making of sandals, or road sub-base. The prices can also be connected together to form a flexible net.
Civil Engineering Applications
The shredded tires also referred to as Tire Derived Aggregate has a number of applications in civil engineering. For example, they can be used as landfill gas trench collection walls, as backfill for road landslide repair, as vibration-reducing material for railway lines and as backfill for maintaining walls.
Ground and Crumb Rubber
Ground rubber commonly referred to as size-reduced rubber, has a number of applications. For example, it can be used in paving projects or be molded into products. Common examples of rubber molded products include carpet padding, rubber flooring materials, patio decks, livestock mats, movable speed bumps, sidewalks, dock bumpers, railroad crossing blocks just to mention but a few.
May be Used as a Carbon Source
Instead of using coke or coal in steel mills, rubber can be used as a source of fuel. In fact, studies have recommended that steel mills should adopt the burning of rubber as fuel instead of coal since coal is mined and can be depleted. Using rubber as fuel is a great way for these mills to go green and reduce their carbon fingerprints.
Impact on Environment and Health
Due to their huge sizes and heavy metal content, tires pose a health risk to the environment and people. When put in waterlogged soils, tires can leach toxins into the groundwater and pose a huge problem.
Used and dumped tires pose health problems to the people around them. Insects and small animals can use the tires as their homes and later cause health issues to the human population. For example, when it rains and water is collected in the inner parts of the tires, mosquitoes can come and inhabit these places and later cause health problems to people.
In conclusion, it is important to recycle any solid waste including tires to ensure that the environment is clean.
The benefits include reducing landfills space, releases less toxic chemicals into the air, Prevent the spread of diseases which could occur by piling of the tires in the landfill sites.
Waste tires are as dangerous as they are beneficial. Because they are nonbiodegradable and energy-efficient, they fill up landfill space, release harmful gases, causing serious environmental havoc.
At the same time, when we recycle tires, we create new products, provide employment and revenues for the government, prevent diseases and environmental pollution, and eliminate other dangers. You can tell that the latter is better.
So, choose the recycling way!