What Is Done With Used Tires?

Recycled tire material is now being used in everything from garden pavers to playground flooring.

Improper tire disposal is not only harmful to the environment; it is also an incredible waste of a highly useful resource.

A better solution to the abandonment of worn tires is to have them properly recycled. Many states now require that tire dealers charge an environmental fee that is used to cover the costs of properly recycling waste tires.  These fees are paid to waste tire recycling operations, which can begin the process of giving new life to old tires.

Here are just a handful of the amazing uses for recycled tire material:

Gravel Substitute

Anywhere gravel is used, chances are that tire chips can be used instead. Applications include: sub-layers for roadways, aggregate for drainage ditches, and highway embankment backfill. Tire chips can limit frost penetration, when used under roads in cold climates.  They are nearly three times as light as gravel, which on its own can produce incredible savings in labor, equipment costs and time. Tire chips are used under light rail tracks that run adjacent to homes and businesses, to reduce vibration and noise mitigation from passing trains.

Crumb Rubber

Crumb rubber is finely ground rubber produced from waste tires.  Steel and tire cords are removed from discarded tires, and the remaining rubber is reduced to a granular consistency.  Some applications for crumb rubber include:  rubberized asphalt, playground flooring, welcome mats, anti-fatigue mats and vehicle mud guards.

Landfill Medium

Shredded or chipped tires can be used as both a liner and/or a cover for landfills. Tire chips can be used as a thermal insulation between primary and secondary landfill liners to reduce temperatures. They also provide a great alternative to coal or incinerator ash, since both are permeable. Finally, tire chips can be used as an efficient and cost-effective landscaping medium for landfills.

Wastewater Treatment Filters

Tire chips can be shredded into a specific and uniform size, making them useful in a variety of ways. Another innovative use is filters in wastewater treatment and constructed wetlands. Because tires can be chipped to be more or less porous than organic compounds, rocks and other material, they often serve as a much better filter media.

Garden Mulch

Yet another innovative use for recycled tires is rubber mulch.  Not only does it retain its appearance over time, it doesn’t float away during rainstorms, nor will it rot the way wood mulch will.  Unlike wood mulch, tire chips don’t attract termites and other wood-boring pests.

Many folks try to save money by taking their old tires with them, after installing a new set on their car.  These tires often end up stacked in garages or backyards, collecting dust, insects, water or even mosquitos.  Attempts to save a few dollars may actually end up costing our environment, in the long term.  Do the right thing, for your community and the future of our planet, and see to it that your tires are properly recycled!

Carlos G. Hill

Carlos G. Hill

Carlos joined TireReview in 2019 after seven years of living and working in Dubai. He has been a journalist for over a decade and has worked for a wide range of publications, including Rolling Stone, Time Out, iQ and Loaded. After starting out on the automotive team as deputy editor of Engine Technology International, Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International and Transmissions Technology International, he has been an editor since 2015, and began editing Tire Technology International in 2018. In 2020, he was appointed editor-in-chief of Tire, Professional Motorsport World, Electric & Hybrid Marine Technology International and Crash test Technology International

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