Beneficial Reuses of Scrap Tires in the Field of Transportation

Focus Area

Waste Management/Recycling/Brownfields


Environmental Process, Natural Resources






1-2 years

Research Idea Scope

TERI Database Administrator Notes:  Note recommended at present time by 2009 Environmental Process Subcommittee. 

Transportation projects may have great potentials of consuming a considerable portion of scrap tires if economic and technical feasibilities can be shown and environmental impact can be assessed in future studies. 

1.         Literature review and survey of existing reuses.  A state-of-the-knowledge review and a state-of-the-practice survey will be carried out to identify the problems associated with scrap tires, evaluate existing scrap tire applications, estimate the feasibility of increasing available reuse measures to full potential, collect design data and specifications, summarize existing structure information, and assist in developing a design and construction guidance.

2.         Exploration of new methods of scrap tire reuses in the field of transportation.  A need exists for the development and analysis of new, feasible, and practical reuses for scrap tires.  Scrap tire applications in civil engineering do not hold the potential to completely solve the scrap tire problem, but they do have the potential to consume more than they consume now.   As a part of the possible solution, exploring new reuse alternatives in transportation engineering will significantly reduce the amount of scrap tires, easing the waste tire problem.  In addition to existing applications, scrap tires may be utilized in various transportation engineering practices involving bridges, low water crossings, culverts, and roadway.

3.         Technical analysis and design methodology

4.         Investigation of economic feasibility (cost and benefit evaluations)

5.         Assessment of environmental impact.  Use of scrap tires in highway construction projects should not pose a problem with respect to environmental impact and human health.  The environmental impact of scrap tires in transportation structures need to be assessed.

6.         Development of design and construction guidance.


Urgency and Payoff

Scrap tires are a high-profile waste material.  There are serious concerns over the ever-mounting scrap tire problem.  Approximately over 242 millions scrap tires are generated each year in the United States.  In addition, between 2 and 3 billion waste tires have accumulated in stockpiles or uncontrolled tire dumps across the country.  Stockpiles of scrap tire present unusual disposal problems, resulting in public health, environmental, and aesthetic problems.  Because rubber tires do not easily decompose, economically feasible and environmentally sound alternatives for scrap tire disposal need to be found.   Therefore, it is desirable to turn a waste created by transportation into benefits in transportation, minimizing environmental impact of scrap tires and maximize conservation of natural resources.  The utilization of waste tires is a social, environmental and economic issue related to transportation.

Suggested By

Roy R. Gu, Iowa State University

[email protected]