Everyone likes a shiny new car, but did you ever stop to think about old tyre disposal and its impact on our environment?
With the number of cars growing globally, hundreds of millions of tyres are being disposed of each year – it’s a massive worldwide ecological problem. In Australia, a whopping twenty-five million tyres are thrown out every year – many illegally dumped, exported or stockpiled in landfill – and our governments are scrambling to adequately address the issue.
The primary issue is tyres aren’t biodegradable – because their composition includes rubber, carbon black, steel and some additives, they don’t break down easily and can take thousands of years to decompose completely in nature. In the meantime, they pollute our air, water and earth, damaging landfill linings because the trapped methane helps toxins travel up to the surface.
Massive tyre dumps that collect water can become prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes, helping to spread the Ross River virus, Dengue Fever and Malaria. They also provide nesting for rodents and snakes.
But the worst problem for our environment is when they catch fire – as we've seen in colossal tyre dump fires recently, they're particularly dangerous because they're so difficult to put out. Tyres on fire burn for days or even years, and the toxic smoke they emit effects people, animals and the environment many kilometres away.
The oily substance left behind will also further leach heavy metals and poisons, polluting soil and groundwater sources.
So how can you be sure your old tyres are disposed of responsibly? Some tyres are retread and reused to extend their life, and others are useful in civil engineering. They can also be repurposed as highly durable water tanks, used in gardens, home improvement and sometimes art projects.
But if a rubber tyre swan or tyre swing isn’t your idea of high chic, there are thankfully more options open to you today with companies now dedicated to dealing end-of-life. Rather than pure waste produce, tyre recycling is starting to prove more profitable – the average tyre contains around seventeen kilograms of oil that can be used for fuel that produces 25% more energy than coal (although emissions are still a problem).
And with virgin rubber now costlier and more difficult to obtain, tyre recycling means greater energy efficiency, fewer greenhouse emissions and a more environmentally friendly solution. New recycling technologies are being explored all the time.
Shredded tyres can also be used as rubber mulch – a great ecological alternative to wood chips – and they can be shredded down even further to create what’s called ‘crumb rubber,’ which is used for a wide range of surfaces including rubber-modified asphalt, bitumen, artificial playing fields and walking tracks. Material from recycled tyres can further find its way into approximately 110 other products like rubber composite flooring, moulded car parts, and construction backfill.
As a socially responsible company, we’re passionate about reducing the negative impact of waste tyres into the atmosphere. Call us now to discuss your tyre disposal needs.