Tyre Pollution Upcycled into Design Objects

Published 02 October 2023

2 min read

Creative upcycling projects are harnessing sleek design and characterful second-life narratives to shift the perceived value of waste and transform it into a savvy sales opportunity. We look at how British start-up The Tyre Collective is using designer collaborations to give even the most unappealing pollution – tyre wear – a precious character.

The company developed a device that attaches to the rear of a vehicle to capture the micronised rubber shed by tyres as the vehicle drives (featured previously on Stylus). While little attention is given to tyre pollution, it is in fact the second largest contributor to microplastics in the ocean, with over one million tonnes released in Europe each year (Pew, 2020).

Now on the third iteration of its prototype, the company’s eventual aim is to partner with automotive manufacturers to integrate the device into new vehicles. Electric vehicles are of particular concern, as their added battery weight and torque makes them heavier than petrol-fuelled ones, contributing to even greater tyre wear.

The Tyre Collective is now looking for ways to upcycle this waste, and has teamed up with product designers, material scientists and chemical engineers to uncover potential applications.

Its project with Spanish digital manufacturing company Lowpoly combines rubber waste with recycled PLA to produce custom pellets suitable for 3D printers and the creation of decorative vases, speakers and acoustic panels. British designer Rafael El Baz draws on the classic mushroom table lamp with a design featuring a base that combines tyre rubber and clear resin. And Chinese designer Qiang Li reformulates the waste as jewellery, with different coloured gemstones referencing the various elements found within the material – namely carbon, iron and silicone.

Growing concern about microplastics and pollution is set to make tyre wear a prominent issue, and something that the automotive industry needs to start addressing. This project highlights how creative upcycling initiatives can help brands responsibly manage and even monetise this waste stream.

See Designing Out Waste and Skincare Made from Textile Dye Waste for more inspiration.

The company developed a device that attaches to the rear of a vehicle to capture the micronised rubber shed by tyres as the vehicle drives (featured previously on Stylus). While little attention is given to tyre pollution, it is in fact the second largest contributor to microplastics in the ocean, with over one million tonnes released in Europe each year (Pew, 2020).

Now on the third iteration of its prototype, the company’s eventual aim is to partner with automotive manufacturers to integrate the device into new vehicles. Electric vehicles are of particular concern, as their added battery weight and torque makes them heavier than petrol-fuelled ones, contributing to even greater tyre wear.

The Tyre Collective is now looking for ways to upcycle this waste, and has teamed up with product designers, material scientists and chemical engineers to uncover potential applications.

Its project with Spanish digital manufacturing company Lowpoly combines rubber waste with recycled PLA to produce custom pellets suitable for 3D printers and the creation of decorative vases, speakers and acoustic panels. British designer Rafael El Baz draws on the classic mushroom table lamp with a design featuring a base that combines tyre rubber and clear resin. And Chinese designer Qiang Li reformulates the waste as jewellery, with different coloured gemstones referencing the various elements found within the material – namely carbon, iron and silicone.

Growing concern about microplastics and pollution is set to make tyre wear a prominent issue, and something that the automotive industry needs to start addressing. This project highlights how creative upcycling initiatives can help brands responsibly manage and even monetise this waste stream.

See Designing Out Waste and Skincare Made from Textile Dye Waste for more inspiration.

The Tyre Collective

The Tyre Collective x Qiang Li

The Tyre Collective

The Tyre Collective x Qiang Li

The Tyre Collective x Lowpoly

The Tyre Collective x Lowpoly

The Tyre Collective x Rafael El Baz

The Tyre Collective x Lowpoly

The Tyre Collective x Lowpoly

The Tyre Collective x Rafael El Baz