How the Circular Economy Offers New Business Opportunities

A key to sustainable business in every industry is creating a circular economy: what used to be considered waste is fed back into the production process as raw material. Factories are increasingly identifying “zero waste to landfill” as a goal, seeking new ways to recycle and repurpose their waste, and industry research looks at how to make products more recyclable. This focus is known as “product stewardship.”

Some products, such as paper or aluminum products, can be recycled into new paper and aluminum products, but this is not always the case. For example, tire production includes a vulcanization process, similar to baking, and just as it isn’t possible to take butter and flour out of an already baked cake, it is not possible to extract natural rubber or other ingredients out of a vulcanized tire. This means an old tire cannot really be converted to a raw material for a new tire.

Still, the tire industry has been called upon in many parts of the world to take responsibility for disposal and recycling of discarded tires including removal of tire stockpiles. In the US, market-based solutions have emerged.

Today, around 95% of tires too worn to use are repurposed for other applications. Of these, 56% become tire-derived fuel, a substitute for coal and other fuels commonly used in cement kilns, pulp and paper mills, and for electricity generation. 25% of scrap tires are repurposed for ground rubber applications, including rubberized asphalt, artificial turf fields and playground surfaces. Rubberized asphalt lasts longer than ordinary asphalt, and has properties such as noise control, erosion prevention and better drainage. Another 5% are used in civil engineering applications. (Read More)