As tyres become ever more durable, tyre recyclers must find ever better pathways to recycle tyres. However, British Colombia’s Western Rubber Products says that it is seeing increasing demand for its end products.
Increasing Demand in British Colombia
“There are billions and billions of dollars that were spent or that are being spent currently trying to make that tyre as strong as possible, so it doesn’t break down, and us poor guys on the backend are trying to break it down,” said Neil Bansal, regional vice-president of Delta-based tyre recycler Western Rubber Products. “And we don’t have billions of dollars.”
Western Rubber Products has been supplementing its supply of shredded tires from sources in Alberta and Washington state to keep up with demand.
The volume of finished products made from recycled B.C. rubber has more than tripled over the last 10 years, according to Tire Stewardship B.C. data. One of the most well-known uses of recycled tyres is for athletic surfaces like artificial turf football and soccer fields as well as running tracks.
Interestingly, another area of high demand from Western Rubber Products is the call for rubber mulch.
Over five million tyres are disposed of every year in B.C. equating to roughly 50,000 tonnes.
Bansal believes that regulation is important to ensuring B.C.’s recycling goals are met and that every tyre is accounted for and ultimately reused. Bansal is also confident that if regulation were repealed tomorrow, the recycling industry would still stay afloat based on the automotive industry’s need to dispose of used tyres and consumer demand for products like rubber mulch, athletic surfaces and rubber flooring and mats for commercial, industrial, and residential uses.
“We work with many manufacturers over the year, and their demand is growing,” said Bansal. “Rather than give someone else the recipe of how to make that product, I want to make it right here.”
Despite the growing market for its current products and the need to supplement its recycled tyre supply with imported material, Western Rubber Products is still engaged in research and development and is working with different B.C. universities to come up with new uses for recycled tyres. For example, the company is developing a use for recycled tyres in building materials, including trying to integrate that rubber into concrete.