Here’s a practical recycling idea that turns a previously hard to dispose of item into a useful product—shredding used automobile tires into mulch.
It’s good for the environment because we save at least some of those millions of discarded non-biodegradable tires from being sent to the landfill.
It’s good for the economy because it creates a saleable product.
It also boosts employment and marketing opportunities for those companies involved in the processing of the product and the installation of the shredded tire mulch into place on playgrounds, horse arenas, and in home and commercial landscaping sites.
And it’s good for the consumer (specifically the kids on the mulch-covered playground) because the shock absorbency of the shredded rubber tires is much greater than that of the often-used wood and shredded bark mulching products.
The end result? Softer landings and therefore fewer injuries for the kids.
Another advantage of using rubber tire mulch on playgrounds is the fact that the shredded tires virtually never deteriorate (one of the reasons we don’t want them in the landfill!), thus making periodic replacement of the rubber mulch unnecessary.
The shredded tire mulch can be bought in “basic black”, as we would certainly expect, or it can be purchased in a variety of colors that have been added to the product.
This seems to be the only place where any deterioration of product can occur in the shredded tire mulch once it has been installed—the fading of the colors from the rubber mulch after it has been in place for 12 years or more! And only the appearance, not the shock absorbency of the product, is affected--which may result in a need for replacement of the topmost layer of the mulch to brighten up and re-establish the desired color.
Still another advantage of using shredded rubber tires for playground mulch instead of using wood products is that the rubber does not absorb water as the organic materials do. Thus water drains quickly and well after a rainfall.
This eliminates the “soggy playground” syndrome and allows the kids to get back to the play surface with a minimum of down town and with no resulting grungy sneakers from clingy dirty wood products.
Shredded tire mulch has also been found to be an excellent footing material for use in horse arenas, the springiness of the rubber mulch causing much less stress and injury to the joints of the animals.
In addition, shredded automobile tire mulch is being used as an effective weed suppressant in commercial and residential landscaping beds.
In processing and preparing the used automobile tires for their second life as a mulching product, the steel belts are removed from the tires. However, some traces of metals such as steel or zinc may still be found in the mulch. Care must be taken to not place the shredded tire mulch too deeply or too closely around tender plants that might be affected by these metals leaching into the soil.
All things considered, use of shredded automobile tires as a mulching product seems to be a win, both for the environment and for the kids!