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December 26, 2013

The Future of Used Tires: RNR Wants to Make What’s Old New Again

There’s no heaven for used to tires.  When your tires have seen their best days and you go in for a new set, do you know what happens to those used tires?  In the best cases, they may be resold and used again, but laws are becoming stricter about which tires may and may not be re-used.  Some tires are burned, some are recycled, and some end up just sitting around and becoming breeding grounds for pests like rats and mosquitoes.  If you look at the statistics, you can see that the problem of what to do with all of these discarded tires really is something we need to think about.  No one wants old tires filling up landfills, right?  But almost a quarter of them do.  Here are a few numbers that have made us stop and think:

Number of scrap tires generated annually:                              290 million

Percentage of total solid waste generated:                              2.0%

Number of tires in stockpile:                                                   265 million

Here’s the good news:  These numbers are the latest from the EPA (and the Rubber Manufacturer’s Association) and they’re from 2003.  The EPA also reported at this time that markets existed for 80.4% of these tires, which is way up from 17% in 1990.  That’s a win!  Those numbers continue to grow, and now we are seeing tires being used for all sorts of purposes, such as: fuel, civil engineering projects, ground rubber applications, and some are being punched/stamped into new products.  Tires are being used to build roads and energy-efficient homes, create safe ground cover for playgrounds and sports fields, art projects, and even new parts for automobile engines.  Here are some numbers that are encouraging:

Number of scrap tires going to market:                                   233 million

Number of scrap tires used for fuel:                                        165 million

Number of tires used in civil engineering projects                  56 million

Number of tires used in ground rubber applications               28 million

Number of tires punched/stamped into new products              7 million

So, all of us here at RNR have been thinking about what we can do to put these tires to good use in a way that benefits the environment, and we’ve come up with some interesting ideas, but since we know that two minds are better than one, we want your ideas.  What would you do right now with scrap tires that would be friendly to our planet?  In a perfect world, without limitations, what would you do?  Can you take that ideal solution and make it work in the real world?  These are ideas we’re going to be really thinking about in 2014, but we need your help.  Put your thinking caps on.  We’ll be calling out to you again soon and hoping you have some solutions that we’ve never even imagined.

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