Kuwaiti tyre graveyard is world’s largest
A landfill site in Kuwait is the resting place of 7 million used tyres, making it the largest of its kind in the world, according to the Daily Mail. While the Mail points out that such a site couldn’t exist in the UK owing to landfill directive, the newspaper does point out the Kuwaiti site is now actually visible from space.
The tyres are believed to be from both Kuwait and other countries. Four companies are in charge of the disposal and “are thought to make a substantial amount from the disposal fees”, according to the Mail.
What goes on Kuwait is a far cry from what happens here and in Europe. In 2010, just over 30 per cent of waste tyres were turned into crumb, 18 per cent were used in energy recovery, nearly 20 per cent were re-used (in the UK or abroad), 16 per cent were specifically used in landfill engineering and 11 per cent were re-treaded, according to the Environment Agency.
In some circumstances tyres are shipped out to countries such as India, Pakistan and Malaysia, but there are strict laws about their exportation and this year there have been prosecutions when companies have cross these boundaries. As the Environment Agency says: “While there is a legitimate export market for quality recyclable material, the illegal export of waste undermines law-abiding disposal and tyre recovery businesses here in the UK and risks harming people and the environment in the country the waste is exported to.”
Rubberised asphalt could make wider in-roads
In a footnote to the Kuwaiti tyre graveyeard piece, the Mail also follows up on reports that recycled car tyres could soon be used to surface roads across the country after a pioneering trial found they made roads quieter. The news follows the resurfacing of one of the busiest roads in Scotland with rubberized asphalt last year. Tests were performed on grip and skid resistance, with engineers reporting that the rubber road, on a stretch of dual carriageway between Perth and Dundee, resulted in a quieter drive. The road is also said to require less maintenance. However, while the rubberized asphalt may be making figurative in-roads into the UK, tyre recyclers claim the technique allows for thinner roads, which saves money.
According to the Mail, Rubber roads were first built in the 1960s in the US, where today there are 20,000 miles of road made of recycled tyres. Rubber roads are also popular in China, Brazil, Spain and Germany. The technique has been found to cut traffic noise by about 25 per cent.
The asphalt is made by breaking down used tyres into rubber ‘crumbs’ which are added to bitumen and crushed stone, which are typically used to make asphalt.
Last year a fire broke out in a Kuwait tyre dump which was so big that it could be seen from space.