Off the coast of Florida, there sits a graveyard of discarded tyres at the bottom of the ocean. Though a collective effort to remove them has been underway for a decade, one organisation finally has a plan to turn them into something new.
In the 1970s, the American company Broward Artificial Reef Inc. believed dropping 2 million tyres on the ocean floor was a good idea. They told the public that it would ‘help the fish’.
The hope was that various corals and tiny fish would latch onto the rubber and create the world’s largest artificial reef, called Osborne Reef.
What actually happened was that the tyres broke up, eventually polluting beaches with microplastics and damaging existing natural reefs when high winds and storms strong ocean currents swept them along.
Despite over a decade of clean-up efforts, over 500,000 tyres remain on the ocean floor. Even now, little life has grown in or around Osborne Reef apart from small and sparse sea sponges.
Floridian entrepreneur Richard Spreen decided to take action after reading about this environmental catastrophe in a local newspaper. He launched his company, Echo Flow, using his existing knowledge of the construction and roofing industry.
Now, Spreen’s company has developed a unique way of turning discarded tyres into a building material that is made up of 93 percent recycled components. This material can then be shaped into bricks or ‘blocks’ that are used in construction.