Guest post by Trisha Miller –
On average only about 35 percent of used tires are actually recycled. The rest end up in large supply at landfills, burn spots, and water dump areas. One major problem with tire dumpage is the fact that tires do not decay at an organic rate. The average tire will not decay for 60-80 years. In an attempt to solve this problem, people often collect tires and burn them in order to both get rid of the waste and have a very long lasting fire. Although, tires contain quite a lot of materials and chemicals that are hazardous to humans and the environment and undoubtedly should not be inhaled via flame. Lastly, tires that accumulate inside or near stagnant water often become a breeding ground for insects, such as mosquitoes, which carry deadly diseases like Malaria.
For all of these reasons and more many companies have begun to test renewable resources for manufacturing tires, instead of rubber.
Goodyear’s Soybean Tire
Back in 2012 Goodyear announced an innovative project that would reduce the use of fossil fuels in the production of tires. Namely, petroleum oil. The plan was to switch to a sustainable ingredient that can be used to improve the global economy by providing jobs around the world and create a quality product that does not contribute to harmful gas emissions.
Turns out they were right. During tests in 2014 Goodyear found out that the soybean ingredient increased tire tread life by 10 percent. The company has not released any information about the product as of late, but do have a small section on their Canadian website which lists the benefits of such a product. It seems that the manufacturer is still working behind the scenes to make this dream a reality.
Michelin’s Micropowder Tire
Michelin has also hopped on the sustainability bandwagon after predicting a shortage of petroleum-based tire ingredients by 2020. Ongoing tests have been experimenting the viability of alternative mediums such as straw, beets, and wood.
Their largest success that has been reported seems to be the micropowder TREC tire (TREC stands for tire recycling). Essentially, old tires are ground down into a very fine tire and are reused in the manufacturing of new tires. This process could potentially eliminate a massive amount of non-biodegradable waste across the globe.
The company has several interested companies, such as the French Agency for the Environment and Energy Management, that are investing big bucks into these projects – totaling an astounding $51 million.
Fraunhofer Dandelion Tire
German and Dutch scientists at the Fraunhofer institute have been working on a dandelion-based rubber tire for a few years now. The team recognized a serious issue in that the tire industry consumes about two-thirds of the world’s rubber resources. In retaliation to this discovery, the researchers began to breed a particular dandelion, from Kazakhstan, which produces a milky substance resembling ordinary tire ingredients.
The organization says that their largest challenge yet is to produce a sustainable product that will remove the pressure from diminishing resources, but will also be an outstanding, long lasting product on the road. So far their research has been fruitful. The team has been able to produce an equal amount of rubber as the current rubber plantations residing mostly in Asia.
Several large companies, like Bridgestone, have shown significant interest in the project and are contributing millions of dollars into their work. The end goal, of course, is to have first pick of the final project once testing has completed.
Coinciding with the decline of available fossil fuels, like petroleum, many businesses are predicting that an actual eco-tire may be on shelves as soon as 2020. Bridgestone, in particular, has made a statement letting customers know they want their sustainable tire to be the only type of tire offered by the year 2050. Needless to say, a total shift to renewable tires is essential in maintaining the health of the world’s eco-system and ozone. With such innovation happening at an exponential rate, there is no doubt that consumers will have an array of sustainable tires to choose from.
Trisha is a writer from Boise, ID. She is a dedicated vegan who promotes an all-around healthy lifestyle. You can find her on twitter @thatdangvegan or check out her blog thatdangvegan.com
Image credit: inautonews.com, under creative commons license