Tires are complex materials manufactured from vulcanized rubber and various other reinforcing materials. One billion end-of-life tires (ELTs) are discarded annually, drawing attention from society. Options for their disposal include reuse, retreading, regeneration, co-processing, pyrolysis, and recycling; however, the ideal alternative has yet to be established. Life cycle assessment (LCA) has been used to quantify their impact and support the decision-making process, in order to determine the most beneficial alternative from an environmental standpoint. Scientific studies on LCA have been carried out on different continents, mainly Europe, Asia, and America. The aim of this chapter was to review studies on the life cycle assessment of end-of-life tire disposal. The main treatment and final destination options were reviewed as well as the most important limitations and aspects of the technologies studied. The most common form of disposal is recycling, with mechanical recycling for use in synthetic grass exhibiting the best environmental performance according to scientific research. Energy recovery also shows good performance, largely due to the emissions prevented through energy conversion. Co-processed and retreaded tires are regularly used for comparison but typically display poor environmental performance in relation to the first two alternatives.
Part of the book: New Frontiers on Life Cycle Assessment