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Can Tyres Be Recycled?

Around 50 million vehicle tyres are discarded each year in the UK and a lot of these are collected from tyre businesses by licensed waste recycling companies. All Tyre Shopper tyre fitting centres send old tyres for recycling, where they can be made into items that you will use every day, like mousemats, rugs, backpacks, playground surfaces and even carpet underlays.

Tyres are now banned from landfill sites in the UK, meaning that they must be recycled. However, to get around the rules, some scrap yard owners are tempted to burn them to free up space, polluting the air with toxic fumes.

What are the UK’s tyre recycling regulations?

Tyres were banned from landfill sites in 2002, and since then, the UK has ensured that up to 100% of waste tyres are recovered and recycled in some way. This contributes massively to the UK’s aim of being a zero-waste economy, by reusing and recycling all waste where possible in order to help save the environment.

Manufacturers and end users (drivers, garages and mechanics) are responsible for disposing waste tyres responsibly. Registered waste carriers should remove tyres from the premises in order for them to be recycled.

How are tyres recycled?

Due to the mix of chemicals used in tyres, they can be hard to recycle. Even heavy road use can make tyres harder to recycle, as oil and other substances can contaminate the rubber.

Tyres at the end of their life can be broken down and granulated to ensure that the various materials can be seen. After this, tyre rubber can be recycled in a couple of ways. Tyres can be used in refurbishing (for example, retreading a used tyre) or mulched and used in new products.

Recycled tyres can also be used for fuel. The tyres are converted into oil using pyrolysis technology, which is a thermal decomposition process produced by very high temperatures and is often sold for heating furnaces.

There are also other uses for old tyres, which doesn’t involve a mechanical recycling process. Tyres can be used as bumpers on track racecourses and go-kart circuits etc.

Crumb rubber

Crumb rubber is rubber from tyres that has been reduced to a fine consistency. At this point, it can be reconstituted for use in many different ways. You may be familiar with recycled tyres being used for playground flooring or sports tracks, as it provides a soft yet hardwearing ground surface that means that children can’t be hurt when it’s in use. Rubber can also be reconstituted into carpet underlay or insulation, or even turned into asphalt for road surfaces and speed bumps. 

Smaller products can also be made from crumb rubber, such as waterproof backpacks, mouse pads, door mats and even belts. These small items are profitable and eco-friendly, an ideal way to recycle rubber.

Jack Underwood

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