Are Waste Tires Bad for the Environment?

By:     Kieran Donnelly

Waste tires can cause some adverse effects on the environment and public health if they are not appropriately managed. However, with proper processing, waste tires can be converted into new products and materials or repurposed for different uses.

In this article, we’ll outline some of the reasons why waste tires can be considered bad for the environment and some ways in which these negative effects can be avoided or at least minimised.

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At Gradeall, we manufacture industry-leading tire recycling machinery. We are committed to working towards a sustainable future and enhancing the tire disposal process across the globe.

Why are waste tires bad for the environment?

Waste tires pose a significant threat to the environment and public health when they are discarded into tire dumps, placed into landfill sites or dumped illegally in other unsuitable locations.

Many countries across the world have even implemented legislation to combat this issue, requiring tire handlers to properly dispose of this type of waste and seek tire recycling alternatives.

Managing waste tires is a global challenge and it requires a major change in how we dispose of this kind of waste. With new technologies and a cultural change in how society values the environment, the future looks promising for managing waste tires in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way.

Problems with waste tires

Some of the ways in which waste tires affect the environment and public health include:

Landfill space

Tires are large and bulky in their nature, which means that they take up a lot of space in landfill sites. In fact, 38 states in the U.S. have even banned whole tires from landfill sites entirely.

To help combat this issue, Gradeall has developed a range of tire processing machinery such as the tire sidewall cutter, tire shredder and tire baler, to reduce the original size of the tires. Many of our clients have benefited from this machinery in helping them process waste tires of all different shapes and sizes and adhere to local regulations.

Landfill leachate

When waste tires are dumped into landfill sites or tire dumps, they can leach toxic chemicals into their surroundings, and with tires taking up to 80 years to decompose, this is a long time for this to be happening.

Landfill leachate can contaminate nearby water sources and the surrounding soil, which reduces its quality and fertility. It may also cause harm to aquatic ecosystems and surrounding wildlife.

Due to the risks associated with dumping tires into landfill sites, the EU has banned them entirely under the EU Landfill Directive

They are difficult to transport

As mentioned above, tires are large and bulky in their nature. This makes waste tires difficult to transport, requiring multiple journeys to bring them back and forth, which also leads to more fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

At Gradeall, we developed an incredible range of machinery to help reduce transport loads, which is better for the environment and business expenses. The MK2 Tire baler, for example, can reduce the volume of tires by up to 80%.

Breeding ground for mosquitoes

Discarded and loose tires can collect rainwater in the base of the tire. This creates stagnant water which is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. This leads to a risk to human health as the cases of malaria will typically spike in correlation to improperly managed tires.

In addition to attracting mosquitos, waste whole tires can also create the perfect habitat for other vermin and pests to live in.

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To avoid this issue, tire handlers should bale tires together so that whole waste tires are properly managed and stagnant water does not form. The MK2 Tire Baler, MK3 Tire Baler and Truck Tire Baler have been designed to handle a range of different tire sizes and operational requirements.

Fire Hazard

Tire dumps in particular pose a huge risk of a potential fire hazard. Tires are an extremely combustible material and once alight, they are notoriously difficult to put out. The longest tire fire was in Wales, where 10 million tires burned continuously for 15 years.

Air pollution

When tires are burned, either intentionally or accidentally, they release toxic pollutants into the air. The combustion of rubber produces harmful chemicals, such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and methane gas, which are huge contributors to air pollution and can also have negative effects on human health, i.e.) increasing the likelihood of respiratory issues and certain cancers.

What to do with waste tires?

In order to mitigate the negative side effects of waste tires, they need to be appropriately processed. This ensures that they are stored in safe conditions, which prevents the risk of tire fires starting, malaria cases spreading, etc.

At Gradeall, we build tire recycling machinery that is fit for this purpose. Our equipment can handle anything from passenger-type vehicle tires to larger, Off-The-Road type tires. If you would like to speak to someone about enhancing the tire recycling program in your operation, feel free to give us a call for expert advice.

Once the waste tires have been appropriately processed, they can then be sent to recycling operations where valuable materials will be extracted through processes like grinding or cryogenic grinding.

Some of the things that waste tires can be converted into include:

  • Playground surfaces
  • Sports pitches
  • Embankments
  • Silage covers
  • Road asphalt
  • Flooring and mats
  • Automotive parts
  • Carbon black substitute

These are just some of the things that waste tires can be recycled into. They can also be used as an alternative fuel source (TDF) but this is controversial due to the toxic gases it releases when burned. However, Tire Derived Fuel still reduces the amount of fossil fuels used and prevents waste tires from ending up in landfill sites.

The future of handling waste tires

As technology evolves we can expect to see more innovative uses for recycling waste tires. It is also becoming more common to see legislation that supports sustainable and responsible waste management solutions.

At Gradeall, we are also working towards better and more efficient solutions for handling this type of waste, if you would like to hear more, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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