Photo via psyberartist via Flickr CC
Researchers in Australia are hot on the trail of a new energy efficient technology for recycling tires into high quality rubber powder and they hope it will lead to a boost in tire recycling by as much as 50%. The new process sidesteps an important piece of what keeps more tires from being recycled - metal contamination. Because shredded tires contain metal, they can't be reused for new rubber products without going through expensive processing.
The researchers at CSIRO and VR TEK, the two companies working in conjunction on the project, feel that not only is their recycling process energy efficient, but also more economic and therefore more environmentally friendly, since it will mean that using recycled tires for new products from roads to retaining walls is that much cheaper and easier than using virgin material.
Each year about one billon tyres are discarded around the world with most ending up in landfill. Tyres are almost impossible to recycle economically and create health and environmental hazards when burned. Given that global demand for rubber currently exceeds supply, industry's inability to economically recycle tyres also represents lost opportunities in terms of potential resource efficiency and conservation gains.
As part of an Advanced Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre project, CSIRO is collaborating with VR TEK to develop new technologies designed to reduce waste tyres to devulcanised and activated high quality rubber powders that can be used to manufacture new rubber products.
We'll keep an eye on the research to see how the technology pans out. If it could indeed boost tire recycling rates while maintaining efficiency, it will be a big step in reusing a commonly wasted material beyond simply reusing tires for playgrounds and purses.
More on Recycling Tires
Recycling Tires to Reduce Tire Noise
Ways You Can Recycle Tires
Recycled Rubber from Tires, Ready-to-Assemble Bags by Modulab
Recycle Your Rubber, Buy Recycled Rubber Products