According to EPA estimates there were about 290 million scrap tires generated in 2003 and at least 275 million scrap tires in stockpiles in the United States. In 1990 only 17 percent of these tires had resale markets but now 80 percent are able to be recycled or reused.
Common Uses for the 290 Million Scrap Tires include:
- 130 million (44.7%) are used as fuel
- 56 million (19.4%) are recycled or used in civil engineering projects
- 18 million (7.8%) are converted into ground rubber and recycled into products
- 12 million (4.3%) are converted into ground rubber and used in rubber-modified asphalt
- 9 million (3.1%) are exported
- 6.5 million (2.0 %) are recycled into cut/stamped/punched products
- 3 million (1.7%) are used in agricultural and miscellaneous uses
Innovative Uses for Scrap Tires
Advances in technology have created many new opportunities for repurposing scrap tires. By developing new uses for the rubber and other materials in tires, millions of tires are kept out of landfills. Below are three new uses for repurposed scrap tires.
Highway Sound Barriers: In order to reduce highway noise, many states are turning to absorptive sound barriers to deflect sound waves. One example is Northern Virginia’s “Whisper Wall” which starts as a mixture of concrete aggregate, cement, water, and small pieces of shredded rubber from scrap tires.
Athletic and Recreational Applications: Major retailers across the United States sell resilient playground rubber surfaced materials made from recycled tires. This material can absorb much of the impact from falls which provides added safety for children. It can also be used as a decorative mulch replacement.
Railroad Ties: Rubber encased railroad ties are being produced using scrap tires that have a steel beam core filled with concrete. These new railroad ties are highly durable and 200 percent stronger than creosote soaked wooden ties which results in fewer ties being needed per mile. These new ties also last between 60-90 years instead of the 5 to 30 years for wooden ones.