Almost any tire can be recycled, including passenger vehicle tires (cars, motorbikes, buses and even airplanes) and commercial trucks and trailers. So you can imagine that the amount of these tires that cannot be reused because they are too worn down, or suffered irreparable damage is phenomenal.
First of all the rubber recycling process involves the collection of these discarded tires. Tires left on landfill sites or burn harm the environment, so a much better way is to recycle this abundance of rubber. A whole host of new markets have opened up recently to make good use of this rubber, one being the tire mulch industry. Recycling rubber tires not only helps the environment, but the economy too, as people need to be employed for the recycling process of rubber.
To make tire mulch the rubber from tires needs to be made into a granular substance, with all the steel and other fiber removed. The whole process is called devulcanization. The tires need to be shredded, and then they are passed through the devulcanization process, which means the rubber does not lose its desirable properties of elasticity and insulation – essential elements of tire mulch used for playground surfaces, landscapes and equine surfacing.
The rubber has to be treated with heat, chemicals and softening agents to keep these elasticity and insulation properties, so that the tire mulch can be used for its intended purposes. It takes time and expertise to get this process just right.
As I have already mentioned, this is a great way to recycle a common waste product, which left in its current state is very harmful to the environment. So make sure if you have any discarded tires, you get them to a recycling facility. After all, there are only so many tires that you can make into tire swings, or ‘interesting’ places to plant flowers in!