How Tires Are Recycled

old tires needing to be recycledHave you ever thought about what happens to tires once they have been sent to the tire recycling center? Well, once they’ve reached the required volume, they get loaded onto trucks and taken to processing centers. After their arrival, they are cut/shredded into 2 inch pieces, which get processed using one of two systems: Mechanical and Cryogenic. The Mechanical system grinds up scrap tires into small chips using the ambient process. Typically, the shreds are put into one granulator fitted with screens that help in the determination of the product size. With the Cryogenic system, tires are frozen at very low temperatures, which help to break them into different sizes. Afterwards, they are super cooled with liquid nitrogen, becoming very brittle. They are then passed through a hammer mill, which breaks them into even tinier particles. Steel is removed using magnets and fibers are separated with air classifiers. Usually, it’s sent off to rolling mills to aid in the manufacturing of new steel. Screening is used to make sure there are no more wires, or anything thing else that could be harmful left in the material. The leftover rubber is often sold as rubber mulch, or used for playground turf. Before it’s shipped off, it goes through a cleaning stage. Water, and other cleaning products are used to ensure that it is thoroughly washed. It is then packed and shipped to various plants like, shoe and athletic/recreational manufacturers. Other uses include molded and extruded products, including mats, and bumpers. Ground rubber is also added to asphalt binder to improve highway performance characteristics, which include how long the road will last. It can also be used in the manufacturing of new tires, and even colored mulch in landscaping applications. Many people are concerned with the safety of using recycled rubber on playgrounds. However, according to CalRecycle, there are no toxicity issues that would preclude using ground rubber on playground equipment. In fact, there are many benefits to using it, such as durability. Rubber is flexible, resilient and makes a great outdoor cushioning material. Scrap tires can certainly be an environmentally compatible alternative energy resource when used properly. They’ve been used for energy in Japan, Europe, and the United States since the 1970s.This is accomplished through the usage of pyrolysis, which is subjecting plastic and tire to high temperatures of 400-450 degrees Celsius in the absence of oxygen to change their chemical composition. This causes the break down into smaller molecules that eventually vaporize, which can be burned directly to produce power or condensed into an oily liquid, generally used as fuel. When performed correctly, the tire pyrolysis process is a clean operation that creates few emissions or waste, but concerns about air pollution due to incomplete combustion, as is the case with burning tires have been documented. Beyond that, tires can be used as construction materials; entire homes can be built with whole tires filled with dirt and concrete. They can also be used as barriers for collision reduction, erosion control, and even artificial reefs. Whatever their usage after they are removed from your vehicles, they are certainly no good, nor are desired in landfills, due to their consumption of valuable space. They can also trap methane gases, which cause them to bubble to the surface and damage landfill liners. So, make sure to “keep track” of where your old tires go, and keep recycling other products, as well!

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Disposing of Universal and Hazardous Waste

Lots of residences and also companies have waste that needs to be thrown away that falls under the classification of “hazardous waste”. Much of this waste is also very common items that you may use in your home or business. Some examples would be batteries and cleaning chemicals. Fortunately, there are numerous facilities and locations that one can take these items where they can be safely gotten discarded. Several recycling facilities accept a significant amount of these items, while some material can only be dropped off at specialized hazardous waste facilities in your county. The State of California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) identified the materials listed below as hazardous waste several years ago, but households and small businesses were excluded from complying with the regulation to keep them out of the trash until now. February 9 marks the date after which disposing them in the trash is illegal. The State refers to the list as “Universal Waste” or “U-Waste” and defines it as electronics (VCRs, cell phones, radios), batteries, mercury thermostats, fluorescent lights, mercury thermometers, and other products containing mercury or other heavy metals. “These materials can endanger public health and harm the environment when improperly disposed,” said DTSC Director Maureen Gorsen. “Our goal is encourage Californians to recycle or properly dispose fluorescent lamps, batteries, thermostats and electronic devices.” Universal Wastes Include: 

  • Common batteries: 9V, AA, AAA, C cells, D cells and button batteries contain corrosive chemicals.
  • Fluorescent tubes and bulbs and mercury containing lamps: They contain mercury vapor, a toxic metal.
  • Thermostats: There is mercury inside the sealed glass switch in old thermostats.
  • Electronic devices: TVs, computer monitors, computers, printers, VCRs, cell phones, telephones, radios and microwave ovens often contain heavy metals, including lead, arsenic, PCBs, and cadmium
  • Electrical switches and relays: These contain mercury.
  • Pilot light sensors: These often contain mercury.
  • Mercury gauges: These include barometers, manometers, blood pressure and vacuum gauges.
  • Novelties with mercury added: This includes greeting cards that play music when opened, old athletic shoes with flashing lights in the sole, and mercury maze games.
  • Mercury thermometers: These typically contain about a half-gram of mercury.
  • Aerosol cans that are not empty: Aerosol cans labeled TOXIC or FLAMMABLE may not be put in the trash if they are not completely empty.

This is not a comprehensive list, but does contain many of the common items that are disposed of at homes and businesses. It is important that we all do our part to keep these items out of landfills and not throw into the regular trash bins.

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Importance of Recycling Electronic Waste

Currently, the amount of waste generated by humans is unsustainable. For example, did you know that 100,000 sea creatures die each year because plastic waste entangled them? Unfortunately, society is exacerbating this problem instead of solving it. More specifically, electronic waste is now a major issue because people do not know what to do with their old TVs, laptops, personal computers, tablets, and game consoles. Sadly, most people discard their old gadgets as soon as a new version of it hits the market.

What Is The Importance Of Recycling Electronic Waste?

Protecting You and Your Community The World Health Organization claims that e-Waste poses a severe risk to children when they come in direct contact with it. For example, kids can touch toxic substances that are present in this waste including lead, chromium, cadmium, polychlorinated biphenyls, or brominated flame-retardants. People around these dumping zones may also inhale toxic fumes emitted by this waste. Additionally, some of these poisonous substances find their way into water systems compromising the health of the communities that depend on that water system. Eventually, serious diseases emerge among those living next to these water systems. You should also note that dumping zones for electronic waste take up a lot of space. In 2000, landfills in the US catered to more than 4.6 million tons of e-Waste. This kind of space would be ideal for building a stadium, school, or a hospital. However, that is only possible if you recycle your electronic waste. Helping Others and Creating Jobs Give your old electronics to someone who needs it. For example, you may have a little brother or sister who needs a computer. You may also have a nephew, cousin, distant relative, or a neighbor who wants it. Moreover, charities are always asking for donations especially when it comes to electronic gadgets. Recycling your e-Waste helps other people by creating employment opportunities for them. Remember, someone has to look for useable materials within the waste. Then another person has to extract these materials. Finally, someone has to assemble them into a new product. That means recycling e-Waste generates employment for many people so why not do it.

Encouraging Electronic Manufacturers to Invest in Eco-Friendly Products

In 2016, the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer had 392,305 employees. In 2012, the same company operated eight factories in China alone. These resources would be instrumental in other sectors of the economy. For example, investing in research and development would be an excellent choice. Another good idea is diversifying its portfolio by launching new products. Therefore, recycling electronic waste encourages companies to think outside the box. These firms will adjust to ongoing market trends. That means they will build more recycling facilities than they have now. Additionally, their investments in eco-friendly products will rise.

Reducing the Physical Handling of Electronic Waste in Third World Countries

China banned the importation of electronic waste in 2002. Unfortunately, that government directive bore little fruit because 70% of the world’s e-Waste ends up in China. This waste affects the local communities negatively. For example, consider the communities that live in Guiyu, China. Here, you will find the world’s largest electronic waste dumpsite. The people who work have high levels of dioxin and lead in their blood. Lead stunts growth in babies and adolescents. Dioxin causes developmental and reproductive problems. Recycling electronic waste within the boundaries of this country reduces the volume of e-Waste that goes to such developing nations. Consequently, the reduced handling of electronic waste means that fewer and fewer people will get sick because of e-Waste.

Recycling Help Build a Just and Moral World

Computers consume an enormous amount of minerals. For example, a bit of gold is always necessary for pin plating. Copper is useful as a conductor in these gadgets, and hard disks cannot function without several metals i.e. zinc, magnesium, and aluminum. Moreover, the hard drive requires other minerals such as cobalt, iron, and nickel. Do you know the source of these substances? In truth, most of the minerals used in building these devices come from third world countries. For example, did you know that the Democratic Republic of Congo produces 60% of the world’s cobalt? Unfortunately, it is an impoverished and war-torn country. Recycling electronic waste reduces the flow of capital into the hands of dictators who exploit their country’s resources for personal gain.

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How To Dispose of Universal and Hazardous Waste

Many homes and businesses have waste that needs to be disposed of that falls under the category of “hazardous waste” and at the same time is also very common waste. Some examples would be batteries or pesticides. Fortunately there are many centers and locations that these items can be safely disposed of. Many recycling centers […]

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Clean Air Markets – Environmental Issues

EPA’s Clean Air Markets Programs address several environmental issues which are briefly described below with links to more information.

Acid Rain
Acid deposition, or acid rain as it is commonly known, occurs when emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) react in the atmosphere with water, oxygen, and oxidants to form various acidic compounds. Prevailing winds can transport these compounds hundreds of miles, across state lines and national borders. These compounds then fall to the earth in either dry form (such as gas and particles) or wet form (such as rain, snow, and fog). Visit EPA’s Acid Rain website for more information.


Climate Change
Over the past century, human activities have released large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The majority of greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels to produce energy, although deforestation, industrial processes, and some agricultural practices also emit gases into the atmosphere.  Visit EPA’s Climate Change: Basic Information page for more information on the causes of climate change and what you can do to make a difference.

Ground-Level Ozone (Smog)
Ground-level ozone, or smog, is air pollution that makes breathing more difficult, negatively effects health and ecosystems, and impairs visibility. Ground-level ozone is created when NOx reacts with other chemicals in the air, especially in the presence of strong sunlight. NOx can travel long distances before reacting to form ozone, creating regional problems instead of only affecting the local area where it is emitted. Visit EPA’s Ozone Pollution website for more information.

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