Source Reduction Alternatives

Source reduction measures for tires include the following:

Design of extended life tires Reuse of used tires Retreading

Great strides have been made in the last 40 years in tire manufacturing that have more than doubled the useful life of tires. Forty thousand mile tires are commonplace, and 60,000 to 80,000 mile lifetimes are often achieved. Constraints of cost, fuel consumption, and comfortable rides, make it unlikely that any major design changes will occur in the near future that will significantly increase tire life.

Frequently, when one or two tires of a set are worn, the entire set is replaced with new tires. Useful tread may remain on several tires. These tires are often sold for second cars or farm equipment. About 10 million tires per year are currently being reused. Although the reuse of partially-worn tires cannot be expected to solve the tire problem, reuse could potentially double based on the number of good tires currently thrown away.

Retreading is the application of a new tread to a worn tire that still has a good casing. There are currently over 1,900 retreaders in the United States and Canada; however, that number is shrinking because of the decreased markets for passenger retreads. This decline is primarily due to the low price of new tires and the common misperception that retreads are unsafe. The price of inexpensive new passenger tires ($50 to $60) is often at or near the price of quality retreads. On the other hand, truck tire retreading is increasing. Truck tires are often retreaded three times before being discarded and the truck tire retreading business is increasing.

The National Tire Dealers and Retreaders Association asserts that properly inspected retreaded tires have lifetimes and failure rates comparable to new tires. Mileage guarantees and/or warranties for retreads are often similar to or identical to new tire warranties. In 1987, about 23 million passenger and light truck tires and 14 million truck tires were retreaded. By 1990 these retread rates changed to 18.6 million and 14.9 million, respectively. It is estimated that most good truck tire casings are being retreaded due to the high cost of new truck tires, but that at least two times as many passenger and light truck tires would be suitable for retreading.

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