What Would Happen If We Didn’t Recycle Old Tires?
Recycling old tires has become a widely recognized practical solution to address the problems discarded rubber tires bring with them. The Tire Recycling Act was passed in 1989. It paved the way for a dramatic improvement in the amount of scrap tires being dumped, as people found ways to repurpose them. What would happen if we didn’t have the Tire Recycling Act, or if people didn’t follow it?
Landfills will reach choking capacity
Old tires can fill up landfills in a short amount of time. Around 300 million scrap tires are discarded yearly in the USA alone. Since whole tires take up as much as 75% void space in a landfill, there would soon be not enough landfills to accommodate old tires. If left unchecked, serious spatial and environmental issues can spread very quickly.
Spread of disease and pests
Tires that are exposed to the elements can get filled up with rainwater, allowing mosquitoes and other insects to breed in them. Rodents can live in tires that have piled up in ravines, creeks, and other sites where they are practically undisturbed.
Contaminated soil, water, and air
Landfills often rely on liners to keep contaminants from spilling over to soil, air, and water. Since tires are made to be durable and last virtually forever, they can trap methane gas which will bubble to the surface and make its way to water supplies, vegetation, and the very air we breathe.
Lack of a sustainable (and creative) lifestyle
Repurposing can spark creativity and innovation. So many practical solutions have sprung from the need to recycle old tires. Rubber mulch as infill is one of these great ideas. Rubberized asphalt concrete has so far been a successful civil engineering application. As for DIY tire repurposing projects, many unique suggestions can be found online: from rubber planters, rubber tire “ottoman” and other furniture, rubber tire playgrounds, and other crafty ideas that will keep creative juices flowing.
California and many other states have formed tire recycling programs with zero-waste goals for discarded tires. With cooperation from their local government, constituents, and industry leaders, other practical solutions can be found to keep tire waste to a manageable level.