The thousand uses of recycled tires

With 200,000 tons of unused tires, many things can be done. Useful, socially beneficial, imaginative, unexpected… Under all these parameters fit the solutions that Signus provides to incorporate the circular economy and give a second life to the materials that make up a waste, which does not stop growing in its quantities and which is necessary and mandatory to manage it properly, either by reusing it or by recycling it.

What can be done with such a quantity of a product composed of 54.8% rubber, 30.7% steel and 14.5% textile, all of them of high quality? Quite a few things, certainly.

Steel is used by the steel industry to manufacture more and textiles are used by the cement industry as fuel. The challenge, understandably, is to take advantage of this rubber for the greatest number of applications possible. And if they require a lot, the better, more non-renewable materials will be saved. Soils for playgrounds, sports courts, road paving and artificial grass fill take up the majority, 90%, of the rubber intended for recycling, previously processed and granulated, each year.

Road asphalt is one of the applications of rubber dust from tire recyclingLabIC

All of them are already developed, tested and in use. Although a significant portion of the crumb rubber will have to come out of that flow. The one dedicated to filling artificial grass. Because in September of last year the deadline that the European Union has given for the restriction of the use of microplastics for the artificial grass base began. There are eight years to develop new uses and applications for the almost 60,000 annual tons of tires that were even destined for that use.

Although it is a big challenge, at Signus there is great experience and experience in alliances with universities and technology centers to promote R&D&i projects to develop applications for rubber from recycling.

Examples of different applications of rubber from tire recycling
Examples of different applications of rubber from tire recyclingRNC top left image. Lower left RMD image. Lazama top right image. Bottom right RMD image.

At the moment and in any case, there are many more applications for the rest of the granulated rubber available: acoustic and thermal insulation, urban furniture, shoe soles, etc., although it generally goes unnoticed that they have it incorporated.

For daring designers

What other uses can a material as special as recycled rubber have, high quality on the one hand and, let's say, aesthetically difficult, on the other? With these characteristics, it is not strange that the world of design, in all its variables, is welcoming it with interest due to the challenge involved in seeing what can be done with it that is useful, beautiful, avant-garde and, on some occasions, even dazzling.

Signus has intensively promoted various initiatives and projects for designers to explore and experiment with the possibilities of recycled rubber. One of them is Neomatique, a project that has been underway for several years and includes jewelry, bags, footwear and a long list of items that are very different from each other.

Another collaboration that has given very interesting results was the one established by Signus, the Didac Foundation and the Maestro Mateo School of Art and Design in Santiago de Compostela, to incorporate recycled rubber into the materials with which the latter's students experiment. , develop useful products and use them in their future projects. The first result was the furniture used to furnish a stage where a series of round tables of the Platform Festival would be held.

Perhaps the most complete range of avant-garde uses of recycled rubber was recently presented at the Madrid Design Festival, with an installation dedicated to the second life of rubber from the recycling of out-of-use tires, also under the umbrella of the Neomatique project, this time with the title The Sound Resonance.

View of the Signus Neomatique Space at Madrid Design Festival
View of the Signus Neomatique Space at Madrid Design FestivalGianluca Pugliese

A series of articles that were the result of the transformation of granulated rubber were exhibited. An example of how using different techniques, including 3D printing, this material undergoes a metamorphosis that results in objects that no one would say were made with something that not so long ago supported and allowed a car, truck or motorcycle to move safely. .

Jewelry, lamps, bag handles, footwear, speakers and designer stools were there to show that yes, it is possible to make many things, beautiful, useful, imaginative, avant-garde and unexpected with the rubber from unused tires.