LANDSCAPING: Ground cover & playground material solves a waste problem

January 18, 2008

playground mulch recycled rubberApproximately one tire is discarded per person per year. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports 290 million scrap tires were generated in 2003. These tires are among the largest and most problematic sources of waste, due to the large volume produced and their durability. Those same characteristics which make waste tires such a problem also make them one of the most re-used waste materials, as the rubber is very resilient and can be reused in other products. With landfills minimizing their acceptance of whole tires and the health and environmental risks of stockpiling tires, many new markets have been created for scrap tires. Growing markets exist for a majority of scrap tires produced every year, being supported by State and Local Government.

Believe it or not, recycled tire products can economically add value and safety to your home. Through a special process, tires can be chopped into small pieces and the metal removed. The resulting products are include crumb rubber (also known as ground rubber) and tire buffings that can be used for mulch or used to create a wide array of molded products like mats and wheel stops. Different sizes and grades of the material are created. West Coast Rubber Recycling an example of a company that takes tires to create these materials that can be used for playgrounds, horse arenas, landscaping and more. The tires they use would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Ground rubber is recognized as the safest play surface on the market. At a depth of 6 inches ground rubber provides the most shock absorption in playgrounds available on the market today – twice as safe as those with tan-bark, sand, pebbles and most other surfaces. Rubber has the unique ability to reduce injuries due to falls from a critical height of over 12 feet! You can actually take an egg and drop it from a height of 12 feet and watch it bounce. While the upfront cost may be a little more than other surfaces, ground rubber only needs to be installed once. No annual upgrading or replacement is required so the cost over time is much less than the alternatives. Also, ground rubber only requires a maximum of 6 inches in depth, versus 12 inches for the wood mulch – so less material and preparation is required.

recycled rubber playground mulchRecycled tires can also be used to create an ideal mulch. Not only does the mulch prevent tires from ending up in a landfill, but the mulch lasts for years – much longer than the alternatives. The rubber is typically colored giving it a natural look. Tires are also often recycled for use on basketball courts and new shoe products.

Rubber ground cover runs $699/ton for colored rubber + delivery, and a ton will cover 150 sq. ft at a 6″ depth.¬† Landscape “mulch” sells for approx. $1,100/ton, and will cover about 450 sq. ft at a 2″ depth.

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