RL Magazine
Edition 41
Message from the Editor
By Lyndsey Turner

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My father is in the scrap tire recycling business and after having visited him this summer I heard some interesting facts about this industry and decided to look into it further.

Crumb rubber is the proper name for material gained by reducing scrap tires into uniform pieces (crumb) with steel and fiber removed along with other types of contaminants such as rock, glass or dust.

Overall, a typical scrap tire contains (by weight):

  • 70 percent recoverable rubber
  • 15 percent steel
  • 3 percent fiber
  • 12 percent extraneous material (e.g. inert fillers)

On average, 10 to 12 pounds of crumb rubber can be derived from one passenger tire.

Cleaned Crumb rubber is used for sports fields, automotive parts, construction, landscape (trails and walkways), playgrounds, asphalts, pavement, sandals, paint and other rubber and plastic blends.

Recovered rubber can be used for fuel because of their high heating value. It’s not technically classified as recycling but its better to recover the energy from a tire rather than discarding it to a landfill. In recent years 130 million scrap tires were used as fuel, which is about 45% of all tires generated. The EPA acknowledges tire-derived fuels as a viable alternative to the use of fossil fuels.

In landfills, tires consume on average up to 75 percent air space. Also, tires may become buoyant and rise to the surface if they trap methane gases. This can tear landfill liners that are put in place to prevent toxins from polluting surface and ground water.

Those tires we ride to work on can be very destructive if thrown to waste but can also be valuable and helpful if disposed of properly. Hopefully as time goes on the scrap rubber industry will gain momentum and more government programs will be hopefully put in place.

Lyndsey Turner, Editor • Editor@RLA.org

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