What happens to the old tires on your car after you replace them? In the U.S. alone, approximately 350 MILLION tires are disposed of annually. Unfortunately, the same resilience that allows your tires to weather ice, snow, sand, and gravel also makes them incredibly difficult to break down. Tires are built to withstand destruction, which means many of these old tires end up in landfills or incinerated. According to a 2017 study at The Open University of The Netherlands, tires could account for as much as 10 percent of overall microplastic waste in the world’s oceans!
Our 2018 Keeling Curve Prize laureate, Bolder Industries, is working to implement circular solutions for rubber, plastic, and petrochemical supply chains—resulting in less tire waste in landfills while substantially reducing CO2 emissions and water and electricity usage. Bolder Industries, a certified B Corporation, innovates products and creates circular solutions with their clients to address this global, waste-tire problem.
Our 2018 Keeling Curve Prize laureate, Bolder Industries, is working to implement circular solutions for rubber, plastic, and petrochemical
What’s the problem with old tires?
Tires can attribute their black color and general durability to an elemental carbon called “carbon black”. Carbon black is a raw material that is used in most industrial rubber and plastic goods. It is derived from petrochemical production and requires refining that is highly resource-intensive, generating significant greenhouse gas emissions. The global demand for this resource is around 15 million metric tons! Clearly, carbon black is not great for the environment.
Beyond the emissions from the production of carbon black, tires also pose a huge waste issue. Jessica Hogan, Vice President of Communications at Bolder Industries, explains, “At the community level, tires are a major waste stream. You might not always see them, but they are there and cause disease, pollution, and fires.”
Bolder Industries is aiming to solve two problems posed by old tires. Their approach addresses the tire-waste stream to make better use of carbon black, recapturing this resource from old tires and they also aim to reduce the amount of carbon black we need to create from petrochemical production.
Bolder Industries’ flagship product, BolderBlack® is a carbon black alternative that replaces petroleum-derived carbon black as a rubber reinforcing agent and black pigment plastics. BolderBlack is 100% produced from post-consumer or post-industrial tires and rubber scrap. Hogan explains, “We generate 98% less CO2 and use 85% less water and energy than traditional methods of creating carbon black while utilizing 98% of every scrap tire. We’re all about circularity and unlocking the natural resources in these tires.”
Hogan emphasizes, “If BolderBlack replaced just 10% of the carbon black produced every year, we would cut 11 million metric tons of CO2 from being emitted into our atmosphere. That’s like taking two and a half million cars off the road.”
From 2018 to now, Bolder Industries has reached full commercialization of their first facility in Missouri, continued to establish market leadership, and is on pace to have three major facilities complete by 2024. “To go from one partially operating facility in 2018 to now having three in hand and more on the way is huge and winning the Keeling Curve Prize was a big part of that expansion,” Hogan states.
The impact of the Keeling Curve Prize
"Since winning the Keeling Curve Prize in 2018, Bolder Industries has accomplished some major goals. Hogan recounts, “At the time, in 2018, we were a company with very big dreams but very little money. We had a massive opportunity in front of us and a huge appetite to accomplish that, but advanced manufacturing is capital intensive, so funding is critical.”