“We know that the longevity of a tire is tied to driver habits, design, climate, road conditions and care,” explains Ed Gugenheimer, Chief Executive Office of the Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA). “Once a tire becomes worn out, replacement is required for continued traction and overall safety so it’s important that we carefully carve out a viable path for old tires to ensure they don’t overwhelm our landfills.”
Each year, Albertans recycle six million tires. These past prime offerings continue to roll in from proactive drivers and 2,200 auto repair shops, tire specialists and vehicle dealers across the province registered with ARMA in addition to 350 tire collection sites overseen by municipalities and Indigenous communities. In fact, since the tire recycling program was first launched in 1992, Albertans have recycled 125 million tires.
The bulk of units collected each year are comprised of car and light truck tires as well as medium truck tires for which environmental fees charged are $4.00 and $9.00 respectively (roughly 3% of scrap tires are made up of off-road and industrial tire which generate a fee of $40 and up depending upon rim size). It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind that your tires are not only being properly handled but also put to good use.
“In addition to the positive environmental outcomes, according to a recent economic impact assessment of Alberta’s recycling sector, this program generated $50 million in Gross Value Add (GVA) and 410 full time jobs for Alberta’s economy,” adds Gugenheimer. “It’s a significant contribution across several fronts.”
Once the tires are picked up, their journey is far from over. Two recycling companies, both registered with Alberta Recycling, are responsible for picking up and processing the tires. Be it shred, mulch or crumb, the recycled material is sold within Alberta, throughout Canada and the United States for multi-purpose use.
“Rubber crumb finds new life in our communities as playground surfaces, walking trails and sidewalks,” says Gugenheimer. “Loose crumb is also used in synthetic turf and athletic fields where it has been found to cushion falls and reduce sports injuries.” Since 2000 ARMA’s Municipal Demonstration Grant Program has provided funding to municipalities, Indigenous communities and registered non-profit organizations to help purchase recycled tire products for community projects.
The majority of community projects involves building new playgrounds or upgrading old ones. The applicants choose a recycled tire product for the playground surface because it offers both safety and accessibility for children who are front of mind for each community when planning these projects. They also find that the surfacing is easier to maintain when compared with sand, woodchips or gravel. To date, there are 598 completed projects throughout the province for which the Program has provided grants totaling $11.25 million.
For the last two decades, tire shred has played an important role in municipal landfills. Recognizing tire-derived aggregate (TDA) as an effective alternative to traditional aggregate, a number of municipalities have opted to choose TDA for use in leachate drainage blankets. It has also been found to perform well in specific road construction applications.