Landfills are the least desirable choice for end-of-life tires due to the potential tire fire risks and environmental pollutants released resultantly. However, around 4 billion waste tires are still in landfills globally. That’s why governments, municipal committees, and even regional authorities have launched eco-friendly tire disposal systems worldwide. Let’s see what key players are doing to combat the increasing environmental and health risks associated with scrapped tires.
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Global Eco-Friendly Tire Disposal Initiatives
Countries around the globe have launched various green tire disposal initiatives by partnering with tire manufacturers and retailers. It includes steps such as the responsible collection of ELTs and recycling or reusing scrap tires in multiple industries. The significant regions playing roles include Europe, North America, and Asia-Pacific.
Tire recycling and reusing initiatives:
In Europe, ETRMA has established UTG (Used Tyre Groups) to manage the disposal of waste tires. The group, which consists of major tire manufacturers across the continent, aims to promote responsible and eco-friendly tire disposal in countries where ELTs are dumped in landfills.
Likewise, in North America, all states have stockpile cleanup and recycling programs run by USTMA and EPA. The scrap tires are collected for a small fee and transported to recycling facilities, such as Liberty Tire Recycling, to make valuable products.
For example, CalRecycle manages the disposal and recycling of ELTs in California, whereas FWTMP, Florida Waste Tire Management Program, regulates waste tire storage, transportation, and disposal across the state.
In the Asia-Pacific region, we see Japan promoting eco-friendly tire disposal. The country has an organization called JATMA that aims to reduce, reuse, and recycle ELTs. China is also in the game with its green tire disposal projects. One such major program is ZC Rubber Tire Recycling. With this project, China has recycled around 400,000 waste tires, significantly reducing CO2 emissions.
Strict legislation for illegal tire disposal:
Besides promoting waste tire recycling and reusing, governments are working on breaking the norm of dumping waste tires in landfills. They have imposed strict laws and declared waste tire disposal in landfills as “illegal.” In Europe, waste tire landfilling is banned.
The US has also banned disposing of whole waste tires in landfills or anywhere openly across various states and imposed penalties on violations. For example, you will have to pay up to $600 for illegal waste tire disposal in Racine.
Sustainable tire production programs:
While tire recycling initiatives and regulations for legal tire disposal work, there is also a need to address the root cause, i.e., manufacturing of tires. Tire particles are harmful to land and aquatic life. Hence, WBCSD, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, has started a global Tire Industry Project (TIP) by partnering with various tire manufacturing companies.
This program aims to reduce the impact of the tire industry on the environment by implementing green tire manufacturing techniques. Businesses involved in TIP are also responsible for researching and developing the best methods to manage ELTs.
Community Practices for Waste Tire Disposal
Environmental agencies and eco-literate communities are also playing a part in promoting green tire disposal.
Educational campaigns & tire amnesty events:
In several states across the US, authorities organize special events to educate consumers on the importance and process of proper waste tire disposal. For example, in Maryland, the “Scrap tire drop-off Citizen Day” is organized to inform residents of the state’s rules on collecting and disposing of scrap tires.
The participants can dispose of used or old tires without paying any tire disposal fee. After a scheduled time, the tires are transported to authorized recycling centers.
Promoting green tire purchases:
Besides emphasizing proper disposal methods, several communities try to educate consumers on buying sustainable tires. Major tire manufacturers like Continental, Bridgestone, Pirelli, etc, have started implementing green tire technology to reduce environmental impacts.
It involves using natural rubber and bio-based materials rather than synthetic ones. Hence, consumers should look for eco-labels and certifications to ensure sustainable tire purchases. For example, Pirelli’s tires are FSC-certified and have a sustainability logo in the form of two arrows.
Future Trends and Innovations
Developed countries have invested heavily in the research and development phase to cope with the old tires in landfills. We expect the following trends and innovations to promote eco-friendly tire disposal in the future.
Increased use of recycled rubber:
With tire recycling processes speeding up worldwide, the surge in the use of recycled rubber for various applications is likely. For example, nanocarbon products in the electronics and healthcare industry using scrap tires will be introduced by 2025 and beyond.
AI in sustainable tire management:
Like in other industries, the use of AI in scrap tire management and recycling is expected. A German company has developed AI-enabled software to sort and process scrap tires during disposal and recycling. Besides, tire manufacturing companies plan to use AI technology in the quality assurance and production phase.
Collaborations between key players:
Tire manufacturers are partnering with research departments, government, and environmental agencies to speed up the development of sustainable tire production and disposal solutions.
For example, Bridgestone has set a milestone to increase the ratio of recycled material for tire production to around 40% by 2030 and go 100% sustainable by 2050. Likewise, Goodyear is about to collaborate with a company named Visolis. The aim is to produce sustainable tires by transforming waste materials into valuable monomers and polymers.
That’s all you may need to know about eco-friendly tire disposal. Countries around the globe are working hard to fight against the increasing harms of ELTs. However, as citizens, we have some responsibility, too, which we can fulfill by legally disposing of our old tires.