5 Ways To Keep Tires Out Of Landfills

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 290 million scrap tires are generated in the United States every year. While recycling tires has increased dramatically in recent years (more on recycling here), the fact remains that there are too many used tires clogging landfills. With each American contributing approximately four tires per year to our landfills (270,000,000 tires) the problem continues to grow.

tires in landfill
On the surface, this may not seem like a huge problem, but tire piles are more than just a nuisance – they are a health hazard. They attract pests like rodents who nest in them and mosquitoes that live in the stagnant rain water collected in the tires. In addition, if the tires catch fire, they produce black smoke and air pollutants, posing significant risks to humans, animals and the environment.

Fortunately, we can help to solve the problem by finding creative ways to recycle and reuse tire rubber. Here are five ways to keep tires out of landfills:

1. Curb ramps – Made from crumb rubber, auto curb ramps are used to bridge the gap from street to driveway in neighborhoods where rollover curbs make the transition difficult. In a three-piece curb bridge set, 12 tires are recycled.

2. Highway resurfacing – In several US states, crumb rubber is mixed with recycled and virgin asphalt materials. The end material is quiet to drive and reduces the amount of limited resource virgin asphalt being used.

3. Highway sound barriers – Many states are now using sound barriers to protect neighborhoods from the loud noises produced by nearby highways. In northern Virginia, a sound barrier was developed using a mixture of concrete aggregate, cement, water and small pieces of shredded tires. Sounds are absorbed by this “Whisper Wall.”

4. Rubber surfacing – Rubber tires are being used as playground and running track surfacing. The resulting material is durable as well as soft, lessening the impact of a fall and reduces injury to runners. This same material is also being used as mulch in road medians or landscaping areas.

5. Tires as fuel – Scrap tires can be used as fuel in shredded form or whole to make tire-derived fuel (TDF). TDF produces the same amount of energy as oil and 25% more energy than coal, and is used as a supplemental fuel source to wood and coal. In 2003, 130 million scrap tires were used for fuel.

These solutions are typically used by manufacturers, construction companies and government entities in their zeal to cut costs and be environmentally-friendly. Consumers can help too by using and properly maintaining durable tires, purchasing used tires and retreads, and buying products made from recycled tires like tire swings, floor mats and curb ramps.