Old Tires Avoid End of the Road

Fortunately a lot fewer old tires are ending up in landfills these days. Concerns about the environment as well as innovation and creativity have inspired some great ideas for how tires can be re-used. Today, Tire Business published an article about how instead of meeting the end of the road, old tires are becoming the road, as part of the asphalt mix of the future.

The Technological Institute of Plastics in Valencia, Spain has reported the development of a “more durable and sustainable asphalt mix” made from plastic waste and end-of-use tires. After 18 months of studies, the 1.35-mile section of test road is performing very well. The combination of plastics, including polypropylene caps, polyethylene packages, polystyrene hangers and old tire material provides increased strength and rigidity.

Some of the other ways that old tires are being repurposed include:

  • Retreads: End-of-use tires can be recycled into new tires. Called “retreads”, these tires are often used on trucks and on airplanes.  Before tires can be retreaded they must be thoroughly inspected for damage, wear, and manufacturing defects. Many tires are not suitable for retreading and must be scrapped.
  • Energy from Tires: Nearly half of all old scrap tires are used for energy. Burned as fuel in factories and power plants, as well as cement kilns and paper mills, these examples of operations use either whole or shredded scrap tires for energy. This reuse keeps millions of tires from landfills and also helps reduce the need for fossil fuels. While burning tires releases gases and noxious substances, from an environmental position, the output is cleaner than that of many other fuel sources.
  • Construction: Just as scrap tires are being used in road asphalt, they are also being used in other construction projects. Use is becoming more widespread, with scrap tire rubber being an inexpensive, lightweight product used to fill underneath roads where bogs, clay or other weak soils that cause construction complications. Tire rubber is also beneficial in sound walls, bridge foundations and other home and community building projects such as patio decks, running tracks and the pliable black surface that is used in school playgrounds.