Kuwait recently announced plans to transform what was once a colossal 2-square-kilometer tire landfill, 5 kilometers from Al-Jahra province in the north of the country, into a new smart and green residential city.
Seventeen years of tire-dumping and three massive fires between 2012 and 2020 sparked environmental concerns, prompting the authorities to shut it down for good.
Oil Minister Mohammed al-Fares said it was now an empty landfill.
“All tires have been removed to begin the launch of the project of Saad Al-Abdullah city.”
In past months, trucks loaded with tires had made more than 44,000 trips from the landfill to Al-Salmi region, near Kuwait’s industrial area.
According to Sheikh Abdullah Al-Sabah, director general of the Environment Public Authority, Kuwait plans to recycle all the tires and avoid the need for another landfill.
Alaa Hassan, head of EPSCO Global General Contracting, told AFP that her firm was contracted to extract raw materials from tires, including elements used to pave roads and sidewalks.
EPSCO has the capacity to cut or repurpose approximately 2- 3 million tires a year, in cooperation with other factories.
Tires’ fire hazards
An average car tyre will travel around 20,000 miles over its lifetime,
In 2019, over three billion vehicle tires were produced worldwide and in Kuwait, there are currently over seven million tires in the ground in Kuwait according to numerous reports.
Tire fires are pretty difficult to put out, and they create a lot of smoke that carries toxic chemicals, like carbon monoxide and sulfur oxides, resulting from the breakdown of rubber compounds. From respiratory ailments to cancer, these substances can have short- and long-term health effects.
Moreover, tires release heavy metals and oil as they burn, which seep into the ground and water over time, polluting land and water.
Almost one million vehicles were added to Kuwait’s roads between 2010 and 2019, reaching 2.4 million vehicles according to Central Statistical Bureau data, creating a host of environmental concerns including tire waste disposal.
Tire recycling can bring both economic and environmental benefits because tires have a second life in many areas. They can, for example, be repurposed into road sub-layers and playground flooring but also employed in the construction of artificial sports fields, carpet underlays, equestrian arenas, playgrounds, and jogging tracks. Recycled tires can be used to create road surfaces that are 25% quieter than traditional asphalt roads.
The recycling process for 42 million tires has begun in Kuwait set to be turned into floor tiles and other useful products.
But this month Kuwait finished moving all of the tires to a new location at Al Salmi, near the Saudi border, where recycling efforts have begun.
The EPSCO plant began operations in January 2021 and the government hopes Al Salmi will become a tire recycling hub, with more factories planned.
The Al Khair Group, the company that hauled the tires to Al Salmi, used 500-plus trucks a day to transport more than half of the tires to the new site. It is planning to open a factory to burn the tires through a process called pyrolysis, its CEO Hammoud al-Marri said.
Pyrolysis produces a type of oil that can be sold for use in industrial furnaces, such as cement factories, and ash known as carbon black.
25,000 new homes will be built on the site of the rubber mountain as part of Kuwait’s plan to create a ‘smart city.’
South Saad Al Abdullah city has been labeled as the Middle East’s first development focusing on green, smart technology.
The $3.9 billion, 30-year project, is part of a wider vision to transform the region into a hub for trade and tourism, cutting its dependency on oil money.
Source: Press Release