What is it?
The tires we use today are mainly made of rubber, embedded with steel wire and synthetic woven fiber, and filled with compressed air. They are used on many vehicle types from motorcycles to passenger vehicles to agricultural machinery. This product does have a finite life span which can be measured by the amount of tread. Traction and braking distance declines as the tread thins making the tires less safe and they will need to be replaced.
What is the issue?
Tires pose problems at landfills because they take up a lot of space and do not break down. Whole tires tend to drift the top of the landfill and break through liners or closure caps. Even though tires do not easily catch fire, tire fires are notorious for burning for a very long time and being difficult to extinguish. The resulting smoke contains carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, styrene, butadiene, and cyanide; all of which are highly polluting and many of them are highly toxic. Throwing away tires is also just a wasted opportunity to reuse valuable resources.
Tire Stewardship Saskatchewan (TSS) is the organization that deals with the responsible recycling of tires in Saskatchewan, funded through Tire Recycling Fees (TRF). People buying new tires leave the scrap tires with their tire retailer, and TSS has them picked up. Also, retailers participating in TSS's Return2Retailer (R2R) program accept up to 10 additional tires back from consumers. Please check out our Waste Reduction Hub to find a location near to you.
What happens after?
Tires collected through TSS make their way to Shercom Industries by Saskatoon. There, they are shredded, the metal and fiber removed, and made into a product called rubber crumb. Depending on the size of the crumb it can be used to make a wide range of products. Loose rubber crumb can be used in place of sand at playgrounds or mulch in landscaping. It can be molded into many shapes to create paving stones, parking curbs, mats, etc. There are also machines that can use the rubber crumb to pave surfaces like driveways and walking paths.
How can I reduce?
Buy longer-tread life tires.
- Rotate your tires every 10,000 km and get the alignment checked every 2nd time.
- Keep tire pressure at recommended level by checking once a month and before long trips.
- Drive less and try walking more.