Comparative LCA of treatment options for US scrap tires: material recycling and tire-derived fuel combustion

  • Rebe FeraldiEmail author
  • Sarah Cashman
  • Melissa Huff
  • Lars Raahauge



This life cycle assessment (LCA) study compares two prevalent end-of-life (EOL) treatment methods for scrap tires: material recycling and energy recovery. The primary intended use of the study results is to inform stakeholders of the relative environmental burdens and trade-offs associated with these two EOL vehicle tire treatment methods. The study supports prioritization of the waste treatment hierarchy for this material stream in the US.


This LCA compares (1) material recycling through ambient-temperature mechanical processing and (2) energy recovery through co-incineration of both whole and preprocessed scrap tires at a cement kiln. The avoided burden recycling methodology reflects the substitution of virgin synthetic rubber used in asphalt modification with the ground tire rubber from material recycling and the substitution of conventional kiln fuels with the tire-derived fuel (TDF). Both attributional (ALCA) and consequential (CLCA) methodologies are used: the ALCA assesses the environmental profiles of the treatment methods and the CLCA examines the potential effects of shifting more scrap tires to material recycling. The attributional portion of the LCA study was conducted in accordance with ISO standards 14044 series.


The results in both methodological approaches indicate that the material recycling scenario provides greater impact reductions than the energy recovery scenario in terms of the examined environmental impact potentials: energy demand, iron ore consumption, global warming potential, acidification, eutrophication, smog formation, and respiratory effects. The additional impact reductions from material recycling are significant, and the establishment of new infrastructure required for a shift to material recycling incurs relatively insignificant burdens. Sensitivity analyses indicate that this conclusion does not change for (1) a range of TDF heating values, (2) a decrease in the mixed scrap tire rubber-to-steel composition ratio, (3) two alternative electricity grid fuel mixes with higher and lower carbon dioxide emission rankings than that of the baseline scenario, or (4) a comparison of material recycling to energy recovery when TDF is used in pulp and paper mills instead of cement kilns.


These results provide a basis for more informed decision-making when prioritizing scrap tire waste treatment hierarchy.


Asphalt modification End-of-life management Life cycle assessment Recycling Energy recovery Scrap tires Waste management hierarchy 



The work presented in this paper is the result of research by Franklin Associates, A Division of ERG, commissioned by Genan Business & Development A/S. We gratefully acknowledge the provision of data and the invaluable discussions with Lars Raahauge of Genan Business & Development A/S and Anders Christian Schmidt and Nanja Hedal Kløverpris of FORCE Technology.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebe Feraldi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sarah Cashman
    • 1
  • Melissa Huff
    • 1
  • Lars Raahauge
    • 2
  1. 1.Franklin Associates, A Division of ERGPrairie VillageUSA
  2. 2.Genan Business & Development A/SViborgDenmark

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