At the end of a product’s useful life, there are a number of options to capture more value from the material in that product. Unfortunately, recycling can be energy intensive, as well as requiring many other resource inputs, such as water. In addition, the result is often a downgraded material (the material is broken down and put to a less valuable use or mixed with other materials that will make it difficult to recycle again). As an alternative to landfilling, some material is simply burned for energy.

The developers or Re-Tread products observed the volume of tires being recycled, burned, or landfilled (some 300 million per year in the U.S. alone) and sought an alternative that required few inputs and resulted in a value-added product. A tire has lost its value and is scrapped after just a half-inch of tread is worn off. That leaves a vast majority of material in that tire with the potential for a new use. Re-Tread created Tire Logs by cutting used tire treads into strips and wrapping them in the shape of a log. The resulting building material has applications in retaining walls, erosion control, flood abatement, seawalls, and more. It’s flexible nature means that it can withstand temperature changes and deformations better than competing materials.

For more details, watch a short video from Re-Tread here. What other products contain a vast majority of their materials after they’re “used up”? What opportunities are there to reuse those materials with the fewest added inputs?