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Chapter 1: Introduction

Tyre waste management is a worldwide environmental problem. Billions of

waste tyres are produced every year. While there are numerous ways to reduce tyre

waste globally, no one method is able to solve the problem, and not every method is

viable in all countries. In many countries there is a fee charged to cover disposal costs

of waste tyres, so illegal dumping of waste tyres becomes a serious issue. Even in

countries with no charge to dispose of waste tyres, illegal dumping is a problem. The

current methods of tyre recycling are only practical in those countries with an

infrastructure, industry and market that can support tyre recycling.

In the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) there is a serious

problem with waste tyres, because it is a geographically small territory with an

extremely large number of vehicles. In Hong Kong there are a lot of private vehicles,

even with a public transportation system that is also very widely utilized. Although

there are many buses, minibuses, and trucks, the majority of tyres from those heavy

vehicles are retreaded. There are more cars and taxis than trucks and buses, so many

of the waste tyres produced are from light vehicles. Landfill space is limited in Hong

Kong because land is expensive and the active landfills are being filled faster than

expected. Stockpiled tyres are a fire hazard and a breeding ground for disease-

carrying insects, which in a subtropical city is a relentless problem. Researchers at

Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPU) are interested in finding ways to manage

the waste tyre problem.

There are over a million waste tyres in Hong Kong, all of which could have

been recycled using methods that are used in the United States and elsewhere.

Currently most tyres in Hong Kong are cut in half and buried, with a small percentage

being recycled into rubber mats and stamped products. Hong Kong researchers are


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