March 31, 2014

Used Tires A Global Disposal Problem

Scrap tires are a common hazardous waste everywhere on Terra Firma.

It is estimated that over 450,000,000 scrap tires are generated annually in the US alone. Over 10 billion used tires are stockpiled globally in massive mountains of tires.

The ubiquitous used tire has come to symbolize not only the waste created by our out of control lifestyles, but also our inability to deal with this waste effectively.

Scrap tires are considered harmful waste because:

  • they leach dangerous toxins into the environment.
  • they can provide a home to noxious pest species, such as mosquitoes and rats.
  • they are highly flammable and when burned in big fires they render the land dead for years.
  • they emit greenhouse gases when burned as a fuel source.

Almost 1/4 of used tires are disposed of in municipal landfills. Many of those are chipped or shredded prior to being buried. 

Scrap tires also make their way into illegal surface dumps, some of which catch fire. A dump of seven million scrap tires in Tracy, California burned for 2 years before being extinguished.

Up to about 50% of used tires are burned on purpose as a fuel source. This method is used in the manufacturing of cement, which is very energy-intensive.

Millions of tires are buried in mono-dumps in countries like Kuwait, where disposal firms simply bury the tires in huge pits cut out of the desert.

Such disposal methods are illegal in most countries where up to 80% of used tires are recycled, recovered, and reused.

In spite of this, used tires are a common environmental eyesore and pollution problem wherever you roll, highlighting humanities inability to deal with the consequences of our industrialized lives.

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