The United States is generating more end-of-life tires each year, and recycled tire markets have not been able to keep up with the growth, according to a report from the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (Washington, D.C.).
The number of scrapped tires has grown by almost 7% since 2017, but the total number of tires recycled or reclaimed has barely budged, according to the 2019 Scrap Tire Management Report. In 2019, almost 76% of scrap tires were recycled—down from 81% in its 2017 report and from 96% in 2013, when scrap tire recycling peaked, the report says.
Recycled tires commonly end up in products such as rubber-modified asphalt, automotive products, mulch for landscaping, and tire-derived fuel. TDF was the destination for 46% of scrap tires in 2017 but declined to 37% of the market in 2019, the report states. About 24% of recovered tires were used in ground rubber products in 2019, almost the same proportion as in 2017. The portion used in civil engineering projects declined from 8% to 5%.
State and federal policies can help spur tire reuse and recycling markets by investing in infrastructure made with recycled tires, such as rubber-modified asphalt and stormwater infiltration galleries, USTMA says. States can also update their transportation specifications to allow the use of rubber in asphalt and include scrap tires in local climate policies, the association says.
Scrap tire stockpiles remain an issue, the report says. About 56 million scrap tires remain in stockpiles, down from 60 million reported in 2017. Most of those stockpiles are in Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Texas, Virginia and Washington. Half of these tires are in states that do not have stockpile cleanup programs, it notes.
USTMA asks states not to shift scrap tire funds away from initiatives that help grow reuse and recycling markets or help clean up tire piles. The association supports “reasonable fees on the sale of new tires to manage state programs,” which 35 states currently collect, it says in a news release. USTMA also calls for more public and private sector investments to increase recycling innovation and research. Visit sustainability.ustires.org.