User login

A Community of Green Bloggers & Activists

ABC's of Tire Recycling

tire recyclingHave you ever wondered what happens to old and worn out tires once you get them replaced on your car? Fortunately, as Green Living notes, the latest improvements in technology have led to more options for recycling rubber tires. According to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, about 80 percent of the 290-plus million tires a year are now saved from going to the dump, and are recycled and turned into other types of products.

Rubber Gets Used

For example, Green Living explained, old tires are often ground up and used in rubberized asphalt, as well as rubber flooring for educational and commercial locations. This style of flooring is especially popular with designers and architects due to its array of colors, designs and durability. In addition, ground-up rubber can be used for athletic turf, mulch, playground surfaces and walking and running trails.

Tire Condition

If your vehicle’s tires are still in pretty good shape, you may be able to sell them. If you have a tire used on certain vehicles—like ATV tires or Jeep tires or the like—you may be able to unload them for nice amount of money. You can try listing the old tires on Craigslist or even eBay; this way someone else can use the pre-owned tires, they won’t end up in the landfill, and you’ll end up with some extra cash in your pocket!

Tire Amnesty

The Environmental Protection Agency’s suggests calling your local trash service to see if they offer tire-amnesty days, where local people are welcome to bring a set amount of old tires to a drop-off at no charge. Contact your local tire shops to see if they have a take-back program that allows customers to drop off old tires.

Recycling Process

Although old tires can definitely be recycled, it is not necessarily an easy process. Earth 911 notes that rubber is tough to recycle because of the vulcanization process it undergoes to keep it flexible. The sulfur added to rubber during this procedure makes it tough to melt, which is why it is typically ground up instead.

Whole tires are put into machines where they are cut up into strips. These pieces then go into grinding machines that further chop up the rubber. Because so many tires are steel-belted these days, the processors often include magnets which can take the metal out of the rubber bits.

Once the rubber is pretty much free of steel, it goes into a machine called a granulator, which then pulverizes the recycled tires into whatever size of rubber bits are needed for the different products mentioned above.

Frozen Tires

Old rubber tires can also be frozen with liquid nitrogen; after freezing them solid they are then crushed into small chunks of rubber. Looking to the future, the Earth 911 article notes, researchers are studying a new process called pyrolysis, which causes the old tires to decompose into gases, oil and char. So far it’s not a viable process in the United States, but with hundreds of millions of tires being discarded each year, it is definitely something that is worth looking into.