How do you solve a problem like 40m waste car tyres a year?
Whoever set fire to the huge Heyope tyre dump near Knighton, Powys, could have had little idea that the action would enter the record books. From 1989 to 2004, yes, for fifteen years, the tens of millions of tyres at the dump smouldered away steadily, packed too tightly underground for firefighters to extinguish and releasing all kinds of toxic nasties into the atmosphere, the local waterways and the soil.
Fortunately, due to events like the Heyope tyre fire, the dangerous tyre dumps are now illegal and a network of licenced companies has been set up to recycle as many of the tyres as possible into useful products, such as Astroturf pitches, playground surfaces, industrial flooring, running tracks and carpet underlay. Less fortunately, the majority of waste tyres still end up as fuel for combustion kilns, as flood defences and in landfills as part of their engineering.
Figuring out what to do with the forty million waste tyres we generate each year in the UK is still a massive headache, yet eco-friendly companies around the world are facing the problem head on. We've pulled out some of the best ideas below - and also explain what you can do to help...
Big ideas for tackling a big problem
>> Got any spare change? PYReco plan to set up a state-of-the-art tyre reprocessing plant in Redcar to extract oil, gas, carbon black and steel from waste tyres, though raising the £85m investment has proved challenging so far.
>> Quieter roads? The US has been using waste tyre material in road resurfacing since the 60s, yet here in the UK we only began trials back in 2013. The test rubber road in Dundee was found to be far quieter than standard British road surfaces, cutting traffic noise by 25%.
>> Tyres on the inside as well? A green start-up company in Australia announced recently that they've discovered an emission free way to extract bio-diesel from waste tyres.
What can we do to help?
>> Drive carefully, avoid harsh braking and check your tyre pressure regularly to prolong the life of your tyres.
>> Moving home? Don’t make excessive trips in your car, save your tyres and fuel by hiring a man with a van instead. For more information, go to their website
>> Report any tyre dumping to the local council, especially if a large number appear overnight in a rural location. Whilst the tyres could be above board and held under licence, plenty of dangerous tyre dumps are still regularly concealed from the authorities so it's best to check.
>> When replacing your car tyres, opt for the best quality you can afford as these will last longer than cheap, poorly made versions.
>> When replacing your truck, van or caravan tyres, consider quality 'retreads' from companies such as Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear and Michelin instead of brand new budget tyres.
>> Reuse your old tyres at home - well-washed first, of course!
DIY yourself a tyre planter for the garden using this tutorial. Please note, we recommend not using these for edible plants, just to be on the safe side.
Kids love a chain tyre swing and this tutorial demonstrates how to make this sturdy horizontal version safely and cheaply.