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  • Mulch That Matters

The Benefits of Rubber Mulch

Reprinted from the General Kinematics website blog, September 2019

You might think that putting fresh tires on your car or truck means the old set will end up in the dump. Thanks to some creative thinking on the part of entrepreneurs around the world, worn down tire tread isn’t the end of a tire’s life cycle.

First implemented as padding on a handful of playgrounds, today, the use of rubber mulch has spread to an incredible degree. The many benefits of rubber mulch have caused a surge in popularity since its creation – evolving from the use of old tires in schoolyards in the 1960’s. Rubber mulch is now keeping kids, yards, and businesses safe from harm, and doing so better than it’s wood alternative.

How Is Rubber Mulch Made?

Once they’ve reached the end of their lives on the road, tires of all shapes and sizes are salvaged, thoroughly cleaned, and then broken apart. Once their steel bands are removed, the remaining pieces of tire are ground up into little bits; resulting in generic, black rubber mulch.

From here, colors are added to create different styles, and then the final product is packaged for individual and commercial use. Depending on the needs of the consumer, additional processing for size or colors may be required for specific projects in city parks, landscaping projects, and commercial designs.

It’s no surprise that rubber mulch is heavier, as well as denser, than wood options. However, rubber mulch is also shock-absorbent, meaning that it’s great for use in parks and playgrounds where safety is key.

But, safety is just the beginning of the benefits of rubber mulch.

Benefits of Rubber Mulch

In addition to the apparent safety benefits, rubber can be utilized in a multitude of projects from construction to large-scale landscaping projects. Additional benefits include:

  • A lower overall cost. Although rubber mulch costs more up front, it is cheaper in the long term since it doesn’t degrade like wood mulch or other natural alternatives.

  • Because rubber mulch does not absorb water, surfaces topped with rubber mulch retain more moisture as water and fertilizer to reach the soil beneath.

  • Insects, pests and unwanted weeds find it difficult to take root in rubber mulch.

  • Installed projects made with rubber mulch can last longer than 20 years and require less maintenance than wood.

  • Rubber mulch is mostly weatherproof, and has been known to stand up to hazardous weather like snowstorms, thunderstorms, and even hurricanes.

Rubber mulch has come under fire in the past over concerns that longtime exposure to the chemicals used to make tires might cause harm to children, pets, and the ground itself. To date, however, there have been no studies produced that indicate rubber mulch poses a toxic hazard. Rubber mulch is, by all accounts, completely safe.

Another obvious, but sometimes overlooked aspect of rubber mulch is that it’s made from recycled tires. Rubber mulch is helping to reduce our global carbon footprint by taking a product that once ended up in landfills or being burned in dangerous tire fires and recycling it into a usable, safe resource in towns and cities alike.

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