The Valley News has a good story about the difficulty of dealing with all the used tires that our transportation-happy economy produces. Burning, reusing, landfilling – all have problems – and the cost is rising. The story is here.
Tires are a significant stream of solid waste. According to the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association, 37% of recycled tires became “tire-derived fuel” in 2019. That often means blending scrap tires, which are largely made of petroleum, into the fuel mix at a cement kiln. Some environmentalists criticize this practice because it may release the toxic chemicals in tires into the air.
Another 25% became ground rubber. For example, tires are often blended into asphalt, or more controversially given their toxic ingredients, shredded and used to cover playgrounds instead of wood chips.
Another 14% was still landfilled, despite a push by the Environmental Protection Agency to keep them out of landfills because hollow tires take up precious space. In a landfill, tires also trap gases such as methane and then balloon to the surface with such force that they can tear through landfill liners.
This is one problem that electric vehicles won’t hep.