There are up to 300 million scrap tires in stockpiles in the U.S., and the amount of scrap tires being generated each year continues to go up. Approximately 10.3 million tons of scrap tires were generated in 2009.
Markets now exist for nearly 85 percent of scrap tires—up from 17 percent in 1990, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association. Through innovative uses of scrap tires, these markets continue to grow. However, scrap tires without markets are still stockpiled or landfilled. The states have played a major role in tackling this problem by restricting land disposal of tires; regulating the hauling, processing, and storage of scrap tires; setting up recycling programs; and assisting with market development for scrap tires. To help deal with the cost of scrap tire management, 30 states collect disposal fees on tires to fund clean-up of scrap tire piles and permitting programs, and in some cases, to support research and market development for tire recycling.
Over the past decade, a wide variety of uses have been found for scrap tires. The largest single recycling/reuse market for scrap tires is ground rubber used in rubberized asphalt. Other innovative uses for scrap tires include:
◦ Ground rubber can be recycled into rubber products such as highway noise barriers, flooring material, and playground surfaces.
◦ Tire material is employed as an alternative to rock in septic systems and landfill leachate collection systems.
◦ Facilities such as cement kilns and pulp and paper mills combust scrap tires for waste-to-energy.
The RMA website at www.rma.org contains information about the management and disposal of scrap tires including markets and beneficial uses, state requirements, health and environmental concerns, and more.