Like many people who are involved in recycling, Trevor Bayley the Chief Operating Officer of Green Distillation Technologies, has great concerns that many things we are doing today will have future serious environmental consequences.
This thought was sparked by a story of a South African company that is taking the treads from truck tyres that are being re-treaded and grinding it into crumb rubber which is then made into rubber mats and carpet underlay for world-wide sale.
In this blog, to focus on the future problems caused by this form of recycling, we move the clock forward ten years from now to 2029….
Way back when Governments and the public recognised the massive environmental problems caused by end-of-life tyres and started to get interested in recycling, there were limited options available to them and unfortunately for the future environment, none of these options took into account the characteristics of vulcanised rubber.
Vulcanisation is the process whereby latex, which comes from the rubber tree and is naturally flexible and, since it is a natural product will break down of its own accord, is converted into the hard rubber casing of a tyre which is designed to never break down.
Re-purposing old tyres
The options that were available for “recycling’ merely re-shaped the tyre and “re-purposed” the rubber, but we thought anything was better than burning, which was the other main alternative and became the number one choice in the United States for so called tyre recycling the 250 million old tyres that country generates each year.
So it came to pass that the old tyre was subjected to a grinding process, a similar action to its contact with the road but much more abrasive, resulting in crumbed rubber delivered in a number of sizes and grades.
Great store was put in the ‘marvellous’ use of these crumbs of vulcanised rubber in mats and carpet underlay, as mentioned in this news story from South Africa in 2019, but there seems to have been no thought given to the next step.
What happens when our rubber surfaces break down?
What happens when the mats and underlay need replacement? Where does that rubber go? Back into more mats and underlay?
If so what do we do with the tyres today? What about all those thousands of tonnes of rubber crumb laid on sporting surfaces and playgrounds, or that which has been incorporated into road surfacing solutions? All these 20 year old solutions are now becoming a current world problem as the waste piles up.
Thankfully we have the process developed by Australian genius Denis Randall which has been instrumental in reducing what could have been a world problem beyond comprehension. This process, which has now become the world gold standard in end-of-life tyre recycling and is now successfully converting a significant percentage of old tyres around the world into valuable oil, carbon and steel replacing the use the use of these mined and fossil fuels and reducing world dependence on valuable but finite resources.