How to Recycle Car Tires

An Overview On Recycling Used Car Tires

If you feel like the walls in your garage are closing in on you, it might be time to clean things out. Whether you’ve got a pile of old tires, a container of old paint, or a jug of used motor oil, you’re likely scratching your head as to what to do with it all. And you’re not alone! Many of us realize that vehicle waste is toxic and should be handled safely, but we’re not all aware of the safe disposal methods.

No more! If you’re got a tire recycling dilemma, keep reading to find out why it’s important to recycle them and how to go about doing it.

Reasons for recycling old tires

Tire disposal creates several practical problems, both for you and for the environment, but all important for human and ecosystem health:

  • Buggy problem: Tires stored in the backyard can become collection sites for stagnant water, which of course, can lead to the growth of mosquito populations and the spread of disease.
  • Bulky, long-lasting waste: As one of the largest forms of solid waste by volume, and one of the longest-lasting, tires are very problematic. Because they are 75% void space, they take up a lot of room and can trap methane gas, causing them to “bubble” to the surface, damaging landfill liners. In the US alone, more than 290 million scrap tires are generated annually.[1]
  • Water pollution: As tires decompose, their contaminants can poison groundwater.
  • Air and soil pollution: When tires are burned (accidently or on purpose), they release dangerous chemicals such as lead and arsenic into the air and soil and can burn for months (they’re nearly impossible to extinguish).[2]

Reduce tire waste

The act of prolonging the life of your tires will greatly reduce your need to replace old tires with new one, thereby reducing your impact on the planet. Make sure your tires last as long as possible with these tips:

  • Keep tires inflated properly
  • Avoid violent braking and accelerating
  • If necessary, have your tires rotated and balanced regularly
  • Replace only those tires that need replacement
  • Retread your tires before replacing them
  • Inspect tires often for cracks, splits, and uneven wear and have repaired if possible

So, how do you recycle tires?

Industry is finding many interesting and creative ways to recycle tires by turning them into new products of all shapes and sizes. Consider, for instance, these re-use options for old tires:

  • Some are used as fuel in cement kilns.
  • Grinding up old tires, the rubber can be used to make basketball courts, splash mats, playground tiles, and shoe products.
  • When melted down, old tires may become hot melt asphalt.
  • Not surprisingly, old tires can become new tires as well!

There are a few methods you should be able to use to properly dispose of your old tires:

  • Reuse!There are several fun things you can do with your old tires to prolong their life, even if not on your vehicle:
  • Make a tire swing for your kids
  • Chop up the tire into mulch for your garden
  • Use them to border flower beds and ponds
  • Turn them into sandbox framing
  • Tire shops:Most retailers of car tires will have a collection program for recycling old tires, though you may have to pay a small fee to have your used tires taken away. If you have the choice between a shop that offers recycling and one that doesn’t, we recommend supporting the green vendor!
  • Community recycling:Some local recycling facilities will accept used tires for recycling, but be sure to ask whether they have size and quantity limitations before loading them up in your car.
  • Tire amnesty days:Many communities now offer “tire amnesty days” when consumers can drop off their used tires for recycling free of charge. Check with your local solid waste management agency to see if they have such a program.

Tip: If there’s a fee for recycling your used tires, you can often get a discount by removing the rims first. Of course, the rims can be recycled with other scrap metals.



1 Wastes - Resource Conservation - Scrap Tires. (n.d.). Retrieved August 6, 2010, from US Environmental Protection Agency:

2 Wastes - Resource Conversation - Scrap Tires - Tire Fires. (n.d.). Retrieved August 6, 2010, from US Environmental Protection Agency:

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