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Report Shows 80 Percent of Scrap Tires Put to Good Use

Expanding markets now consume four out of five scrap tires, according to a report by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA). In addition, stockpiled scrap tires have been reduced by nearly 75 percent since 1990.


WASHINGTON — Expanding markets now consume four out of five scrap tires, according to a report by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA). In addition, stockpiled scrap tires have been reduced by nearly 75 percent since 1990.

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The report shows that 80 percent or about 233 million of the 290 million scrap tires generated in 2003 went to an end use market, compared to just 11 percent in 1990. Scrap tires are being used in areas such as civil engineering, products made from ground rubber and tire-derived fuel (TDF).

“Tire manufacturers have taken the initiative to promote environmentally and economically sound solutions to reduce scrap tire waste,” said Michael Blumenthal, RMA senior technical director. “RMA has worked to enact state scrap tire cleanup laws and regulations and to help develop markets that create new uses for scrap tires.”


Ground rubber reuse is one of the largest markets for scrap tires, consuming more than 28 million tires in 2003. One of the fastest growing markets for ground rubber is its application in athletic and rereational surfaces. Rubber-modified asphalt is another market that uses ground rubber to produce more durable roads. Ground rubber also is used in carpet underlay, flooring material, dock bumpers and railroad crossing blocks.

The report also shows a 41 percent growth in the use of tire shreds in civil engineering since 2001. Civil engineering projects include road and landfill construction, septic tank leach fields and other construction applications. Tires add positive properties in these applications such as vibration and sound control, lightweight alternatives to prevent erosion and landslides and drainage in leachate systems.


“Civil engineering markets are continuing to gain wider approval with annual usage increasing from 56.4 million tires, compared to 40 million in 2001,” Blumenthal said. “California, Delaware, Maine, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey and Virginia are all using or planning tire shred projects in their states.”

TDF is the leading use of scrap tires, especially as a supplemental fuel for electricity and pulp and paper. TDF use has increased almost 12 percent to nearly 130 million scrap tires since 2001.

In addition to using more annually generated scrap tires in new applications, cleanup efforts of stockpiled scrap tires continues. Since 1990, the number of scrap tires in stockpiles has been reduced by 73 percent. Of the remaining stockpiles, 91 percent are concentrated in 11 states: Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington.


Scrap tire management efforts are gaining more attention from government officials. In late 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the Resource Conservation Challenge (RCC) with a mission to conserve national resources, a main goal of scrap tire management.

“The RCC’s goal is 85 percent for scrap tires reuse and a 55 percent reduction in stockpiles by 2008 from the 2001 baseline of 300 million stockpiled tires. We think that both of these targets are achievable, but the stockpile goal will be dependent on several states initiating an abatement program,” Blumenthal said.

Despite major accomplishments, challenges remain in regards to scrap tire reduction efforts. Several financially strapped states shifted fees dedicated to scrap tire programs to general funds.


“Effective scrap tire programs need dedicated resources to ensure continued improvement in cleaning up stockpiles,” Blumenthal said.

The U.S. Scrap Tire Markets report is the seventh biennial report researched and published by RMA. The report shows the status, progress and challenges of the U.S. scrap tire industry. The information is obtained through a questionnaire sent to all state scrap tire regulators as well as extensive telephone surveys.


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