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uses for old tyres
Submitted by MichaelE on Tue, 2010-11-23 11:42
Every year millions of car tyres wear out. When one considers the number of cars on our roads and you times that number by four – just think of the number of tyres that we are chucking out every year! Yes some are retreaded, and their lives extended, and some are recycled and turned into other products. Many however end up as rubbish - they exist in our landfills, where they take an extremely long time to degrade and slowly leach toxic chemicals that pollute the environment.
To create a new tyre requires 23 litres of crude oil equivalent for raw materials and 9l for process energy compared with 7l and 2l respectively for the retreading of tyres. The car tyres on most of our vehicles can usually only be retreaded once, but tyres on big vehicles such as trucks can be retreaded up to six times, and by retreading, you decrease the number of tyres ending up in the landfill.
Many of the tyres that are sent for recycling are chipped and used in other applications, from shoes, sandals, buckets, motor vehicle parts, doormats, to computer mouse pads.
Powerplants exist overseas where tyres are incinerated for their stored energy as tyres contain more embodied energy than coal (if you've ever tried to put out burning rubber, you'll know that it is virtually impossible). Tyres are also burnt in impoverished areas to obtain their metal mesh content, a dangerous practice causing lots of smog and pollution in the process.
Whilst you cannot always be sure where your tyres from your car will land up, there are some nifty things that you can do at home with those old tyres. They are a free resource that you can obtain at your local Speedy, HiQ, Superquick or other tyre fitment centre, or from the contractor who collects these tyres.
Here are some suggestions - if you have others please leave a comment.
Edge / border marker
Retaining walls, raised beds
Compost bin or wormery
Water tank base
Earth-house building brick
Read about the Khayelitsha Earthship
If you have any innovative ideas for old tyres please comment!