Almost any tire can be recycled, including passenger vehicle tires (cars, motorbikes, buses and even airplanes) and commercial trucks and trailers. So you can just imagine that the sheer amount of these tires that cannot be reused because they are too worn down, or suffered irreparable damage is phenomenal.
Tires that are burned or left on landfill sites harm the environment, so a much better way to handle this abundance of rubber is to recycle it. A whole host of new markets have opened up recently to make good use of this rubber, one being the tire mulch industry. Recycling rubber tires not only helps the environment, but the economy too, as people need to be employed for the recycling process of rubber.
As such, rubber mulch—a type of mulch that is made from 100% recycled rubber—is one way to make good use of your old tire. Rubber mulch will not harm your plants in any way shape or form. It looks good, and comes in a wide variety of colors, so you can be a bit more adventurous than the non-users of rubber mulch, who stick to their brown dull borders.
Rubber mulch will survive through the harshest of weathers and keep your garden looking good all year round, so don’t go chemical organic, go recycled rubber mulch.
Rubber mulch generally consists of either waste tire buffing or nuggets of rubber from tires that are ground up whole, after having their steel bands removed. Almost any tire can be used to make rubber mulch, including passenger vehicle tires and large truck and trailer tires.
Buffing is produced from recycled truck tire tread when the remainder of the worn-down tread is removed from the tire prior to retreading. Buffing are generally thin slivers of rubber. Nuggets range in size from three-eights of an inch to one and one quarter of an inch.
Rubber mulch provides several advantages over plant material mulches. Because it is recycled, it is environmental-friendly. For landscaping and gardening purposes, both nuggets and buffing insulate soil from heat allowing a 2 or 3 degrees Fahrenheit higher soil temperature difference over wood mulches.
Rubber mulch is beneficial for soil moisture as rubber is non-porous and does not absorb water on its way through to the soil. It also reduces fungus growth, and becomes a weed barrier as weed seeds dehydrate in the mulch before reaching the soil. Neither nuggets nor buffing provide any humus to compacted soil types.
Another advantage over plant material mulches is its elasticity, which gives it a springy quality when used in a fairly thick layer. This makes it a natural choice for playgrounds, where the extra springiness provides additional safety for children when they fall off of playground equipment.
Tests have shown rubber mulch is superior in breaking falls to traditional bark mulches. It can be 97% wire free for landscape use and 99.9% wire free for playgrounds. Rubber mulch is also becoming a product of choice used in horse arenas for footing material when mixed with sand. It can be found in nugget or shredded style.
First of all, the rubber recycling process involves the collection of these discarded tires; they’re available in most landfills. Indeed, there’s no shortage to the amount of recyclable tire material for tire mulch production.
To make tire mulch, the rubber from tires needs to be made into a granular substance, with all the steel and other fiber removed. The whole procedure is called devulcanization. The tires need to be shredded, and then they are passed through the devulcanization process, which means the rubber does not lose its desirable properties of elasticity and insulation—essential elements of tire mulch used for playground surfaces, landscapes and equine surfacing.
The rubber has to be treated with heat, chemicals and softening agents to keep their elasticity and insulation properties, so that the tire mulch can be used for its intended purposes. It takes time and expertise to get this process just right.
As already mentioned, tire mulch manufacture this is a great way to recycle a common waste product, which when left in its current state is very harmful to the environment. So make sure if you have any discarded tires, you get them to a recycling facility. After all, there are only so many tires that you can make into tire swings, or ‘interesting’ places to plant flowers in!
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