Kuwait on Sunday announced plans to transform what was once a mammoth “tire graveyard” to a new residential city.
The 2-square-kilometre (0.7-square-mile) dump in the north of the oil-rich Gulf country was where tires went to die -- a total of more than 40 million at the end.
Seventeen years of tyre dumping and three massive fires between 2012 and 2020 sparked environmental concerns, prompting the authorities to shut it down for good.
“We have moved from a difficult stage that was characterized by great environmental risk,” Oil Minister Mohammed al-Fares said at the now empty landfill some five kilometers from al-Jahra province.
“Today the area is clean and all tires have been removed to begin the launch of the project of Saad Al-Abdullah city.”
In past months, trucks loaded with tires had made more than 44,000 trips from the landfill to Al-Salmi region, near Kuwait’s industrial area, where Fares said they will be temporarily stored.
He said the tyres will be cut or repurposed for local use or for export, adding that storage would meet “international standards... in case of fire.”
According to Sheikh Abdullah Al-Sabah, director general of the Environment Public Authority, Kuwait plans to recycle all the tyres and avoid the need for another landfill.
“There is already a factory today that repurposes them, and we hope to find other manufacturer to contribute to help end the tyres issue,” he told AFP.
Alaa Hassan, head of EPSCO Global General Contracting, told AFP her firm extracts raw materials from tires, including elements used to pave roads and sidewalks.
She said EPSCO has the capacity to cut or repurpose approximately two millions tires a year, in cooperation with other factories.