Kuwait's infamous tyre graveyard given environmental makeover

The recycling process for 42 million tyres has begun

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In a huge expanse of sand near a residential neighbourhood in Kuwait, 42 million tyres are set to be turned into floor tiles and other useful products.

The old dumping site was an eyesore, as black rubber rings blighted the view.

Not only unpleasant to look at, the smoke and noxious fumes from continual blazes were also making life difficult for local residents.

But this month Kuwait, which wants to build 25,000 new houses on the site, finished moving all of the tyres to a new location at Al Salmi, near the Saudi border, where recycling efforts have begun.

At a plant run by the EPSCO Global General Trading recycling company, employees sort and shred scrap tyres, before pressing the particles into rubbery coloured flooring tiles.

"The factory is helping society by cleaning up the dumped old tyres and turning them into consumer products," said EPSCO partner and CEO Alaa Hassan. They also export products to neighbouring Gulf countries and Asia.

A worker removes a newly moulded rubber mat manufactured from recycled tyres at the EPSCO Global General Trading recycling company in Al Salmi, Kuwait. Reuters

The EPSCO plant, which began operations in January 2021, can recycle up to three million tyres a year, the company said.

Scrap tyres are a major environmental problem worldwide due to their bulk and the chemicals they release.

The government hopes Al Salmi will become a tyre recycling hub, with more factories planned.

The Al Khair Group used 500-plus trucks a day to transport more than half of the tyres to the new site. It is planning to open a factory to burn the tyres 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 an ash known as carbon black.

Updated: September 07, 2021, 12:19 PM