Tire Recycling Gets Serious — The More The Merrier?

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Technologies aiming to recycle vital components from old rubber tires are relatively new. The problem such tires present for the environment, by contrast, is very old.

Approximately 1 billion rubber tires are discarded into landfills annually amid a lack of recycling incentives and still emerging recycling technologies, creating additional environmental problems on top of those created by the initial production of the tires themselves.

One of the main components rubber tire manufacturers like Pirelli & C. S.p.A PIRC need is carbon black, a pigment used to strengthen the rubber. About 80% of all carbon black, produced by the incomplete combustion of petroleum products, is used in tires.

What if you didn’t need to produce virgin carbon black and instead found a green way to recycle it from tires otherwise destined for the landfill?

That’s what Pittsburgh-based startup Smart Tire Recycling (STR) says it is working on with its patented technology now moving from the laboratory to commercialization. The result is recovered carbon black (rCB), which is the chemical version of its virgin equivalent but with zero emissions.

Safety in Numbers

And STR is not alone. In fact, the company doesn’t want to be; it welcomes other players in the industry.

That’s why it is celebrating the recent news of an $80 million investment in the sector.

Los Angeles-based commercial real estate company CIM Group ponied up that amount to expand its investment in the Bolder Group, a Colorado company focused on recycling rubber tires precisely to recover the vital carbon black material. STR describes the company, which was founded in 2011, as a pioneer in the sector.

STR sees the move as a ringing endorsement of the growing credibility of pyrolysis, the technique used to recycle carbon black through the thermal decomposition of materials in an inert atmosphere.

“This kind of investment is a huge success for our industry as a whole,” STR says. “We view developments such as this as additional signs which point to the investment community’s confidence that the new processes and technologies we are developing are working and are here to stay.”

Not New but Improved

Pyrolysis is not a brand new technology, but STR wants to improve it with its processes to heighten the yield of rCB.

And the tire industry could need it with STR estimating that only about 7% of the total amount of rCB required by the industry in the U.S. alone is currently being processed and sold. Big tire players such as Bridgestone Corp. BRDCY are taking note and increasingly looking at the sector.

STR believes more efficient tire recyclers are needed, and more tires need to be recycled efficiently. 

“There is plenty of space in the industry for multiple companies to flourish,” STR says.

Smart Tire Recycling is currently involved in a second crowdfunding campaign that has raised more than $350,000 so far. The campaign involves up to 7 tiers of investment with varying degrees of perks depending on the size of the individual pledge. Learn more about Smart Tire here

This post contains sponsored advertising content. This content is for informational purposes only and not intended to be investing advice.

Picture credit: Andrew Coop on Unsplash

Posted In: Partner ContentSmart TireEmerging MarketsMarkets