Disposal of used tyres is a challenge worldwide, and the Sultanate of Oman is no exception. The civic authorities in Oman are constantly fighting the menace of used tyres thrown in vacant plots and other places. There is no proper mechanism to dispose of them, which may adversely impact the environment and public health in the long run.
Globally over 1 billion end-of-life tyres (ELTs) are generated annually. It is estimated that 4 billion unwanted end-of-life tyres exist in landfills and stockpiles.
In Oman, on an average yearly basis, as much as 45,000 tonnes of scrap tyres are generated, a figure that is subjected to rise with population growth and urbanisation, while the volume of plastic waste produced in Oman is about 2.3 million tonnes per year, according to statistics published in 2020.
These two materials favour insect breeding, and with water clogged inside, the dangers are even worse as rubber and plastic are built to last, and they do not decompose quickly.
Hence, waste tyre disposal is a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes and is a reason for various serious illnesses. When piled up in landfills or junkyards, they release chemicals into the air and to the ground that has serious repercussions on the environment.
If this waste catches fire, it releases clouds of black smoke which carry many hazardous chemicals to the environment. This fire cannot get extinguished by just water. Once water is sprayed, the chemicals wash away and can seep into groundwater, polluting the lakes and ponds and affecting aquatic life.
Plastic pollution is another pressing issue wreaking havoc on the environment today. It can take centuries to decompose plastic. It releases harmful chemicals and toxins into the ground, water and air. When plastic isn't disposed properly, it becomes a major contributor to land and water pollution. Marine life is adversely affected as plastic is dumped into the oceans, lakes, and ponds.
The way forward is "Return, Recycle and Reborn". In other words, recycling is the only way to end mosquito breeding and save people from communicable diseases. There are three kinds of tyres used in the Sultanate of Oman," said a representative from the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology.
"They are passenger car tyres, off-the-road (OTR) tyres and truck or bus tyres, and recycling is the only industry which not only brings circularity in the economy but also there is 400 times value addition to the waste by converting it to a valuable resource," adds a representative from Tinna. This Indian company has successfully constructed more than 5,000 kilometres of roads using recycled rubber.
The Passenger Car Tyres are made from 100 per cent synthetic rubber, which can neither be finely grounded nor be devulcanised.
The Off-Road Tyres (OTR) are the ones which are being used in cranes, heavy machinery, loaders, and excavators and are built to use on uneven surfaces, be it sand, dirt, snow, mud or any site with industrial activity/mines. Because of its big size and volume, OTR is extremely difficult to handle.
Truck or bus tyres produce the best quality rubber for recycling purposes because of their high-quality natural rubber content. Rubber Powder made from recycling trucks and bus tyres is used to make roads, new tyres, conveyor belts and many other rubber-moulded products. The use of recycled rubber partially replaces Natural Polymer & Bitumen in different applications contributing to the reduction and conservation of natural resources.