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Millions of Old Tires Spark Recycling Frenzy

InfoSpi, Inc. plans to build up to ten plants that can extract oil, steel, and carbon black from used tires.

It’s like finding money on the street: the average tire contains the same energy as seven gallons of oil, and it has a heat content up to 16% higher than coal.  That’s one reason why tire recycling is starting to catch on in a big way.   It’s finally starting to put a dent in the notorious tire dumps in the U.S., many which are illegal.


Large scale tire recycling mainly consists of chipping or crumbing the tire so the rubber can be used in highway surfaces, or burned to provide power for manufacturing.  Whole tires are also used in civil engineering projects.  But the future of tire recycling may belong to a slew of companies that are coming up with new ways to recover more valuable resources from the mountains of “black gold” that dot the U.S. landscape.

InfoSpi Inc. and Tire-to-Oil Recycling

InfoSpi’s contribution to tire recycling is an ambitious plan.  The company expects to build up to ten “Tire to Oil” recycling facilities that will recover practically all of the oil in a tire, along with steel and carbon black.  The company has just announced that its first plant should be up and running at Pompano Beach, Florida early in 2011.  The carbon black angle is especially significant from a recycling point of view, because of its potential for reuse.  Carbon black is used to reinforce rubber products (including tires), and it is also used in paints, inks, toner, and the like.  Carbon black is a high value product and the U.S. EPA has been actively soliciting research into cost-effective ways to recover carbon black from recycled tires.

More Products from Recycled Tires

Magnum D’Or is another company digging deep into the nation’s tire dumps. It is specializing in recycling tire crumb into a high quality product that can be used to manufacture new tires.  PMGI/Productive Recycling is recycling scrap tire with concrete to form blocks that can be used in wetlands reconstruction and other environmental projects.  Meanwhile, Carbolytic Materials Co. L.L.C. recently opened a facility that will recycle tires into a “green” carbon black, which can be used in hoses, gaskets, roofing, and other materials.

The Growing Mountain of Tires

One reason why more companies are becoming more comfortable investing in tire recycling is the fact that used tires are a ubiquitous, seemingly endless resource stream in the U.S.  It’s also a resource that is bound to grow as the U.S. car driving population grows.  The introduction of inexpensive electric cars in the near future could also lead to an increase in rate of car ownership, and consequently a greater volume of tires in the recycling stream.  The introduction of alternative “green tire” products could also provide additional revenue opportunities for recycling plants that can adapt to new materials.

Image: Tires by TUBS on wikimedia commons.

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Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


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