WASHINGTON D.C.—The good news is that scrap tire markets are growing, especially in light of the recent passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The bad news is that scrap tire generation continues to out pace the growth in these sustainable end markets, and has done so since 2013.
Still, the 2021 Scrap Tire Management Report, released in December 2022 by the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association, can be considered a net positive in the journey toward a truly circular economy.
"We see scrap tire recycling as a key part of our role in supporting a sustainable circular economy, and we have been steadfast in our efforts to promote market expansion," said Anne Forristall Luke, president and CEO of USTMA. "USTMA will continue its commitment to expand markets and help advance opportunities for scrap tire technologies through work with our value chain partners, federal and state policy makers, academia and NGOs."
The 15th biennial report on scrap tire management showed a 71-percent consumption rate for used tires in 2021, meaning just less than three quarters of all scrap tires generated in 2021 in the U.S. found a home in tire derived fuel, ground rubber, land reclamation projects or civil engineering undertakings (among other end markets).
This is down from 76 percent in 2019, and a high-water mark of 96 percent in 2013.
The 2021 numbers are attributable to a 13-percent hike in scrap tire generation against a 6-percent increase in end markets.
Even so, only batteries and cardboard are recycled at a higher rate than scrap tires, which continue to find end uses at a higher rate than glass, plastic, aluminum, metal and paper, according to the USTMA.
Here are five trends to take away from the most recent scrap tire management report.