Illegal tire disposal is a major source of pollution worldwide, particularly in developing countries where they are more likely to become breeding grounds for insects or vermin. Even lawful disposal of unprocessed waste tires has proven to be an unsustainable solution: tires take up a large amount of space in landfills.
Tire shredders offer a solution to the problem of used tire disposal in that they reduce them to manageable sizes. After processing, tire shreds or chips can be used in many applications. In some cases, the tire shreds or chips are simply disposed of in landfills, but processed used tires have been recognized for their potential for re-use.
Instead of contributing to landfill overfilling, processed tires can be used to line landfills, isolating decomposing waste material and preventing contamination of groundwater. Tire chips can also be further processed for use in playground and basketball court surfaces, asphalt and even new tires.
A tire shredder, like all other kinds of shredders, can be designed in many configurations. Large-scale, dedicated tire shredding operations can make use of one, large tire shredding system. Other operations can make use of shredders that can fit on trailers for easy transit to different used tire stockpiles. In either case and in all cases in between, a given tire shredder can be designed to process tires in different ways. Chipper shredders are designed to shred materials into uniform pieces for easier processing.
Many tire shredders are configured in this way, especially when the tires are intended to be processed into a new product. Because tire rubber undergoes so many refinement processes before being put into use, many of those materials can be harvested for sale and reuse during tire reprocessing. Trace amounts of steel as well as rubber and fibers can be collected and sold for use in countless new applications.
There are some concerns that reprocessed tires, when put into use as surfaces or in other applications, can still contribute to environmental degradation through the contamination of groundwater. Chemicals used in the vulcanization of rubber are believed to seep out of shredded tire rubber more easily than unprocessed rubber. Any tire disposal operation should take possible negative environmental consequences into consideration whenever undertaking tire disposal.