Recycling where the rubber meets the road

| 8/10/2004

Ever wonder where all those tires go after they come off the truck? The image of massive piles of waste tires comes to most people’s minds.

Well, not anymore.

A report from the Rubber Manufacturers Association says that 80 percent of the 290 million tires scrapped in 2003 were recycled. That’s 233 million tires that were used in civil engineering projects, products made from ground rubber and tire-derived fuel – fuel used to generate electricity or in industrial processes.

The new figure represents a huge turnaround. In 1990, just 11 percent were recycled.

Not only are fewer tires going into waste piles, the old waste piles are disappearing. The association said stockpiles of scrap tires have been reduced by nearly 75 percent since 1990.

The ground rubber is used in athletic and recreational surfaces; in rubber-modified asphalt for roads; carpet underlay; flooring material; dock bumpers and railroad crossing blocks. The rubber used in civil engineering projects contributes to road and landfill construction, septic tank leach fields and other construction applications.