According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the leading use for scrap tires is combustion fuel. New technologies and pollution control equipment burn tires at higher temperatures and reduce air emissions. In addition, cement kilns and pulp and paper mills supplement more traditional heating fuels, such as oil and coal, with scrap tires. These facilities burn approximately 42 percent of all scrap tires generated annually. A beneficial alternative when used as fuel, tires produce the same energy equivalent as oil, and an equivalent 25 percent higher than coal.
Scrap tires are used in civil engineering projects to create artificial reefs, boat bumpers, crash barriers at racetracks, playground equipment, slope stabilizers, and erosion layers on dams. Other uses include ground scrap tires for running tracks, playground surfaces, and shoe soles. Highway departments also mix ground tires with asphalt for paving because the mixture can last longer than asphalt alone. About 24.5 million scrap tires, or 9 percent, are recycled through the use of ground rubber from scrap tires or by using cut, stamped, or punched rubber from scrap tires.
Image source: iStock