Quiet Victory: Tire Recycling

This gem of hope was burried on the last page of today’s Washington Post:

A record 80 percent of old tires were recycled for other uses including fuel and playground equipment in 2003, according to an industry report released Wednesday.”Back in the early ’90s when there was over a billion tires in stockpiles, no one knew what could be done with them, and the markets that did exist were very small,” said Dan Zielinski, a spokesman with the Rubber Manufacturers Association, the group that funded the study.In 1990, the first year a report was issued, only 11 percent of scrap tires were recycled. In 2001, 77.6 percent were recycled. Recycling is expected to grow to about 85 percent of discarded tires by 2006, the group estimated.

This is incredible news. According to this study, 230 million tires were recycled last year and a total of 290 million new tires were manufactured. Assuming that all the recycled tire material went into manufacturing the new tires instead of a new product, we approached a level of sustainability that is unparalleled in other parts of our economy and in other industries worldwide.I haven’t read the RMA study, but I hope it talks about the factors that contributed to this incredibly high rate. Are there financial incentives for recycling tires or does the fact that most tires are removed and replaced in a limited number of facilities make the critical difference? What is the tipping point?!

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One thought on “Quiet Victory: Tire Recycling

  1. In 1991, Nike teamed up with Eco Educators, a national environmental education training organization, in order to focus on recycling and sustainability issues. Nike initiated its "Reuse-A-Shoe" program in 1993. According to Nike, more than 13 million pairs of shoes have been recycled in the past 8 years. Nike accepts running and athletic shoes that are no longer functional and recycles them into Nike Grind, a material that eventually becomes sports courts, tracks and playground surfaces. It takes 4,000 shoes to surface a playground, 5,000 for a basketball court, and 150,000 to surface a field and a quarter mile track.A similar program was established in elementary and middle schools called "Air to Earth." The educational program, co-sponsored by Nike and Eco Educators, teaches children about the NIKE recycling system. School children collect shoes and send them off to become Nike Grind material. (<a href="http://www.rrca.org/publicat/spr02soles.htm)">http://www.rrca.org/publicat/spr02soles.htm)</a>

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