x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Tyre fire puts UAE waste management in the spotlight

A stack of tyres caught fire at farm in Madinat Zayed highlighting the need for better waste management practices.

A pile of used tyres at a private fire in Madinat Zayed caught fire at the weekend, releasing dangerous emissions into the air. Photo courtesy Abdul Khan
A pile of used tyres at a private fire in Madinat Zayed caught fire at the weekend, releasing dangerous emissions into the air. Photo courtesy Abdul Khan

A tyre fire at a farm in Madinat Zayed that sent plumes of smoke into the air has highlighted the need for strict waste management.

The pile of used tyres was set ablaze on Saturday after contact with diesel fuel being stored nearby.

The Centre of Waste Management, which answered the private-farm owner’s call for help, described the fire as a “minor problem” and said it was quickly put out.

Najib Faris, chief commercial officer of Bee’ah, a Sharjah-based waste-management company, said the fire underlined the importance of taking precautions when disposing of old tyres.

“Tyres pose a major fire risk and environmental hazard,” he said.

“Given they are easily ignitable and flammable, once a fire starts it is very difficult to put it down.”

Burning tyres creates dangerous emissions, Mr Faris warned.

He said there were four or five such fires in the past year, both accidental and deliberate.

One of the fires was “really big”, Mr Faris said, but he would not reveal the locations of any of the blazes.

“You are talking about a lot of chemicals being released into the air,” he said, explaining that the benzine compounds released could cause nausea, dizziness or respiratory inflammation.

Burning tyres also wastes an opportunity to recycle. The UAE has two facilities capable of recycling tyres, with Bee’ah managing one of them.

At the centre, tyres are frozen in liquid nitrogen, which makes them brittle, and then smashed into pieces of about 0.5 millimetres.

The company recycles 2.5 million tyres a year, turning them into material for jogging tracks, playgrounds and other uses.

“These are precious materials that we can turn into so many things,” Mr Faris said.

“Between us and the Al Ain recycling facility, we are fully capable of handling the majority of the tyres produced here.

“Be it on purpose or by mistake, it is the economy and the environment paying the price for burning tyres,” he said.

vtodorova@thenational.ae