What Happens To Used Tyres?

  • Added:
    Dec 09, 2013
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What Happens To Used Tyres? Photo by Tim Machin

According to the Environment Agency, the UK produces around 55 million waste tyres a year which, if not properly reused, recycled or disposed of can cause serious problems. Failing to deal with waste tyres properly can be dangerous for the environment or badly affect communities and businesses. It is because of this that anyone involved with producing, importing, carrying, keeping, treating or disposing  of waste tyres is bound to a duty of care. Anyone remotely involved with waste tyres must consult the Environment Agency as to the correct disposal procedure, as illegal waste activities will incur large financial penalties. Given that it currently costs 60 to 80 pence to legally dispose of a tyre, it is much cheaper to follow legal requirements from the beginning.

With so many tyres needing replacing each year, it is important that there are plenty of useful options for using old tyres. Some tyres, if they are still in a reasonable condition, can be re-treated and re-used as tyres again. This however, is not a particularly common occurrence as tyres are usually used until they are no longer fit for purpose which means that the new, remoulded tyre may well not be road safe. Also, some tyres are badly damaged when they are removed so there is no other option but to find another use for them. Below are some of the innovative and interesting ways in which old tyres have been put to good uses:

There have been many unusual designs to reuse tyres, numerous of which are for home furnishing products. Chairs, tables, rugs, quirky seating and flower pots can all be made from tyres and give a home a unique look while also protecting the environment. Rubber tyres also work really well as carpet underlay as they are durable and provide a soft texture underfoot.

Often, waste tyres are used in the construction of engineered landfill sites and flood defences. Ground up rubber tyre can also be used as a road material or it can be mixed with concrete for use in construction projects. Tyre rubber also works well as a shock absorber so it can be used to reduce vibration around railway lines.

There are lots of outdoor uses for tyres as well, some practical, some fun and some just for aesthetics purposes. Rubber crumb from tyres can be used to make sports surfaces and safety mats for children's play areas, while whole tyres can make swings for playgrounds. If you want to have the whole works and kit your entire garden out with tyre products, then a good use can be to make an attractive feature flower pot which you can paint any colour to fit in with your garden design.

Although an unlikely use, some designers have even managed to construct clothing out of old tyres. In Japan for example, waste tyres have been transformed into sneakers and pumps which, made from the inner-tubes of the tyres, are extremely water resistant and surprisingly attractive looking. Other designers use old tyres exclusively as the material to fashion interesting handbags and for the adventurous shopper, a tyre bag could be teamed with a matching bike tyre belt. Lastly, and most unusually, Michelin have even made a pair of women's shorts out of tyres. While unfortunately, the world is probably not quite ready for tyre shorts, the attempt is admirable!
All in all, it would seem that tyres have not reached the end of their use once they are no longer road worthy. With so many potential options for old tyres, there is no need for them to be quickly disposed of so we can simultaneously create new, useful things and protect the environment. If a complete tyre is not reused, there is also always the option of recovering materials from the tyres by shredding them.

Author's Profile

Tim Machin works for Tyre Medics, a leading supplier of car, van and motorcycle tyres in the UK. Tyre Medics saves you time and money by fitting your tyres at home or work through mobile tyre fitting services, mail order tyre sales, and the supply and fitting of new tyres.

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