Tires... There's no question we can not live without them. The real problem - what to do with them when they reach their end of life? Last year 1.3 billion tires were discarded worldwide. We have come a long way from diverting some of them from landfills, but there are still millions of tires out there releasing toxic chemicals into our environment.
The media has educated us that discarded tires trap water and make an excellent breeding ground for mosquitoes, making Malaria and the West Nile virus a far bigger problem. Maybe you didn't know that half of the old tires we discard are used as TDF (Tire Derived Fuel) which is a major fuel source for making cement.
This practice has severe environmental implication due to toxins being released into the air from the burning process.
Today's steel belted radial tires consist of several different materials from natural and synthetic rubber, nylon, polyester, steel, and roughly 40 other chemicals and the recycling process can be quite complex.
Innovators like Green Rubber Global have created solutions for breaking down (devulcanizing) tires into what's called "crumb rubber". Crumb rubber can be mixed with adhesives and combined with blacktop for paving the roads we drive. Other products using upcycled rubber convert the waste tires into artificial "beauty bark" for playgrounds, rubber mats, engine hoses, etc. Footwear giant, Timberland Company, recently signed a partnership with Green Rubber Global for making a complete line of shoes and boots with recycled rubber soles. The shoes can be returned to Timberland where they are fully disassembled and 80% of the material can be reused into making new recycled products.