Everyone wants to be eco-friendly. Everyone is concerned with electric cars and hydrogen cars and air cars and solar power on the roof and every possible way to reduce their “carbon footprint”… but what about tires?
More than 240 million tires are thrown away each year in the United States. Fewer than 7 percent are recycled, 11 percent are burned for fuel, and 5 percent are exported. The remaining 78 percent are sent to landfills, stockpiled, or illegally dumped. That’s almost 190 million old tires a year wasted in this country alone. People in the auto recycling industry have known this for years. Tires are a pain in the ass to get rid of, no one wants them.
But there is a perfect use for them…
A use that addresses a problem we already have. In effect, it kills two birds with one stone; and yet, we’re not doing it on a large scale. That perfect use is Rubberized Asphalt Concrete (RAC). It makes for better roads, it’s makes for roads that need less work later on, and it’s easy to make. You just shred the tires into what they call “crumb rubber”, then melt it down and mix it with asphalt. Done and done.
So why are we not using this in all our roads? There’s a very simple reason, and I’ve talked about it a few times before: The government has a monopoly on street building. Politicians get to pick which companies provide the materials and build for the streets. And the biggest companies have the best lobbyists and always donate the most money to campaigns – so they get the contracts. There is no incentive to use a new technology that works better, they don’t need to compete, they just need to donate to the right politician. And the politicians just worry about getting elected. They’re not concerned if a product works better.
And Rubberized Asphalt Concrete (RAC) does work better.
1. Using RAC clearly reduces road noise by as much as 85%
2. Applying a two-inch layer overlay of RAC can save $50,000 per lane mile compared to using four inches of conventional asphalt in the same application
3. An overlay of RAC can prevent cracks in underlying pavements from reflecting through to the surface of the new paving
4. RAC retains its original color better than conventional asphalt and markings remain more visible
5. Using RAC saves on maintenance costs, a properly designed application can last 50% longer than use of standard asphalt
6. RAC provides better traction and can reduce traffic accidents in poor weather
It makes for better roads, that’s an established fact. We have a surplus of old tires in this country wasting away in our landfills, and we have roads that are constantly being worked on and in need of repairs. The obvious conclusion is to use those waste tires in our roads.
But there are limitations to RAC, it’s less effective in very cold environments, and it can be more expensive initially, even though it saves money in the long term. So it’s not a 100% solution to the tire problem. We need to do other things with these tires in concert with using RAC in roads if we really want to make an impact.
What are some other uses for old tires? Leave them in the comments.