“Albertans recycle six million tires a year and since our tire recycling program began in 1992, we’ve repurposed 125 million tires,” says Ed Gugenheimer, Chief Executive Office of the Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA). “Rubber playground surfaces are one way we can give scrap tires and recycled rubber a purposeful new life by turning waste back into raw materials to be manufactured into new products.”
The transition is fairly straightforward. Rubber tires are collected from all over the province and then taken to processing plants where they are granulated to various sizes of crumb. Using magnet systems, any steel wire is extracted from the rubber while tire nylons are removed using a vacuum process. The steel tire wire is then sent for scrap, and the nylons used as fill material.
“The result is a 100% clean rubber crumb which has various manufacturing uses as well as applications for community, sports and playground surfaces,” says Gugenheimer.
In Alberta, the average playground surface uses 15,000 kg of recycled rubber. That’s the equivalent of roughly 1250 recycled tires per average sized playground. Once in place, most playground surfaces will last for 20 years. That’s where Softline Solutions steps in.
“We have developed a process for re-granulating playground pour, in place rubber surfaces and old rubber tiles,” says Howard McIntyre, CEO of Softline Solutions. “With our systems and technology there is no limit to the amount of times old rubber surfaces can be recycled.” Softline has laid over 400 surfaces in Alberta over the last four years. In 2019 alone the company used more than 476,435 kg of Alberta recycled rubber crumb.
“We have a deep commitment to sustainability and Alberta has one of the best tire recycling systems in North America,” says McIntyre. “This is more than simply leveraging the rubber from a tire once and then the product goes to landfill. For us it’s a continuous cycle that can deliver significant value to communities over time.”
To learn more about Softline Solutions, please their website.