The current tire life cycle offers much room for improvement. Globally, over 1.3 billion tires are scrapped each year. To date, there are only minimally effective, relatively low-value solutions for the recycling of tires.
Common recycling processes are “low tech” and are focused on simple shredding and separation. Half of the volume of tire disposal relies on tire-derived fuel, where scrap tires are shredded and burned for their BTU value. The fumes generated through tire burning contain heavy metals and other harmful pollutants that linger in the air, leading to significant CO2 emissions and potential acute chronic health hazards. Although companies claim to properly dispose of tires, what they really mean is that they aren’t illegally dumped. Only 30% of disposed tires are recycled and repurposed; the remaining 20% end up in landfills.
Existing tire recycling solutions are costly and produce low-value end products with limited end-markets. Waste tire management companies face stagnant markets for recycled markets such as rubberized mulch and crumb rubber for turf fields, as well as declining disposal markets (and rising disposal costs) for tire-derived-fuel products due to increased regulations.
So, what can be done to make the process more efficient and sustainable? How can the tire life cycle be improved?
New technologies can be used to convert and upcycle tires into high value products for high volume markets. By transforming the product into widely used industrial materials that are easy to adopt in high volume applications, recyclers can finally access markets that have the ability to consume millions of tons of material each year. Every ton of scrap tires processed is a ton that isn’t polluting our environment by being burned, landfilled, or illegally dumped.
A shift to sustainable upcycling applications will also require attractive economics. Successful technologies will convert tire waste into products that are far more valuable than the cost to make the product, while also offering attractive value to end users. These processes create a closed-loop economy for scrap tires and plastic waste, offering a more “economically sustainable” solution to the problem.
To learn more about what Tyreflow is doing to improve the tire life cycle and the value products that we are producing, please click here to learn more and get in touch.