In 2015, end-use markets consumed 87.9% percent by weight of the scrap tires generated in the U.S. The total volume of scrap tires consumed in end use markets in the U.S. reached approximately 3551 thousand tons of tires. RMA estimates that about 4038 thousand tons of tires were generated in the U.S. in 2015. In 1990, only eleven percent of tires were consumed on a per tire basis. Positive end-use market results in 2015 were primarily the result of high rates of TDF use and lower exports. In the long term, the need to expand all economically viable and environmentally sound markets for scrap tires is still an imperative. Scrap tires were consumed by a variety of scrap tire markets, including tire-derived fuel, civil engineering and ground rubber applications. Other smaller markets and legal landfilling consumed the remaining annually-generated tires.
Key Scrap Tire Markets
Tire-Derived Fuel In this application, scrap tires are used as a cleaner and more economical alternative to coal as fuel in cement kilns, pulp and paper mills and industrial and utility boilers.
Ground Rubber Applications This market consumed 1020 thousand tons of scrap tires, or over 25 percent of the volume of scrap tires generated. Ground rubber applications include new rubber products, playground and other sports surfacing and rubber-modified asphalt.
Civil Engineering The civil engineering market consumed 274 thousand tons of tires in 20154, about 7.7 percent of the total tires to market and consists of tire shreds used in road and landfill construction, septic tank leach fields, alternative daily cover and other construction applications.
Other Markets Additional smaller markets for scrap tires exist that consume approximately 7% of annually generated scrap tires. These markets include tires consumed in electric arc furnaces (steel manufacturing), professionally engineered tire bales and products punched, pressed or stamped from scrap tires.
Stockpiles of scrap tires historically began to be created around the 1960s and 1970s when tires were diverted from landfills but recycling markets for them were not functional. Stockpiles proved to be prone to catastrophic fires which created air and water pollution. Read more about stockpile cleanup