Scrap Tire Markets

USTMA helps fuel the growth of end-of-life markets for scrap tires.

Scrap Tire Markets

The turnaround in U.S. scrap tire consumption is astonishing: In 1990, only 11 percent of annually generated scrap tires were consumed in beneficial end use markets. The rest went into stockpiles. For many stakeholders, including USTMA, this a priority issue.

Tires are now one of the most recycled products in the U.S., but end-of-life markets are not keeping pace with the annual generation of scrap tires. As of 2019, almost 76% of scrap tires were recycled in products such as rubber modified asphalt, the manufacturing of automotive products and mulch for landscaping and other products, and tire-derived fuel.

The need to expand all economically viable and environmentally sound scrap tire markets remains an imperative to help reach USTMA’s goal that all scrap tires enter sustainable and circular end use markets.

 

Key Scrap Tire Markets Include:

Tire-Derived Fuel (TDF):

Scrap tires provide a cleaner, more economical fuel alternative to coal in cement kilns, pulp and paper mills, and electric utility boilers. TDF generates more heat than a comparable weight of coal but has a lower greenhouse gas impact since tires are partly made from a natural rubber derived from trees. The TDF market used more than 100 million tires in 2019 (43 percent of total annual scrap tire generation).

Ground Rubber Applications:

Ground rubber is produced by grinding scrap tires into different sized pieces. Metal and fabric can be removed, and the granules are sized for specific applications, such as: new rubber products, landscaping mulch, rubber mats and rubber modified asphalt (which results in quieter, more durable roads). 

In 2019, the ground rubber market consumed 25 percent of the nation’s scrap tires (more than 66 million of them) with playground, landscaping, mulch and molded and extruded products as the most dynamic segments.

Civil Engineering:

Tire shreds are increasingly used instead of raw materials (e.g., sand, clay) for road and landfill construction, including rubber modified asphalt, septic tank leach fields, alternative daily cover for landfills and other construction applications. The benefits include vibration and sound control as well as lightweight fill to prevent erosion and landslides. Tires also facilitate drainage in septic, leachate and landfill gas systems. The engineering market consumed nearly 14 million tires in 2019, 8%  of the total.

Other Markets:

Smaller markets take on about 8 percent of scrap tires. These include tires used for:

  • Electric arc furnaces (steel manufacturing)
  • Land reclamation projects
  • Exports of tire-derived fuel
  • Products punched, pressed or stamped from scrap tires

Legal landfills consume almost all the remaining tires.

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