How do we move forward with less waste?

A future without waste when our global population is closing in on 8 billion people may feel like a very blue-sky notion. We all know the realities and impact of our global population growth rate on our earth. Most of us only need to look to our own cities and neighbourhoods that we live and work in to see and experience some of these cumulative impacts firsthand.

So, how do we move forward with less waste? For me, it began with a small – yet big – shift in mindset. When we don’t look at waste as we once did, everything changes. When we know the materials that go into many of the consumer products we use daily can be turned back into feedstock for new products to be made, waste is no longer waste.

Take tires for example. At the basis of what tires are for, it is a crucial component of the automobile (or aircraft) needed to move people, products and services. They’re a product that has evolved over time through design, material and technology improvements to improve its efficiency to weather whatever conditions they need to be driven in.

Alberta has recycled over 131 million tires since1992, enough tires to circle our equator more than two times around. For scale perspective though, according to the 2020 Goldestein Global Tire Recycling Market Review, every year over 1.6 billion new tires are generated and around 1 billion of waste tires are generated. However, the recycling industry only processes around 100 million tires every year.

 My reaction to this wide gap in recycling tires isn’t one of despair but instead, I look at it as untapped economic opportunity to a readily available feedstock that would further remove our reliance on natural resources we’ve traditionally used in products that can now be completely manufactured by recycled tires such as playground surfaces, molded landscaping products like fence posts, park benches and planters, and synthetic turf and athletic tracks.

Ed Gugenheimer
CEO of Alberta Recycling Management Authority

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