Are Car Tires Recyclable? A Simple Guide

In today’s time, being environmentally conscious is important. Many buy electric cars to help save the planet, but the next question is, can you recycle your old tires?

All of the primary materials of a car tire (rubber, nylon, and steel) are recyclable. The metals are repurposed into other steel products, while the rubber is processed separately in its own recycling stage. 

In the same way that people age, tires do as well. If you’re curious to learn more about how the tire recycling process works, make sure to keeping reading!

How Are Tires Recycled? 

Although tires may seem simple, there are actually several different methods used to recycle them.

  • They are shredded or cryogenically ground down to turn the rubber into substances such as synthetic turf, road banks, and playground floors. 
  • Chemical processes are used to break down the tires.
  • The rubber is treated with liquid nitrogen. The chemical turns the rubber into a fine powder. 

There are two main ways to recycle your tires, Mechanical and Cryogenic.

Note: When we talk about tires, we refer to the rubber as the steel and other metals have already been removed when it comes to recycling the rubber. 

Mechanical Recycling

A specially designed machine will grind the tires into pieces using a process called Ambient.

A granulator will regulate the size at which the tires get ground. 

Cryogenic Recycling

The tires are frozen using liquid nitrogen. Once frozen, the rubber is then broken into crumbs using a hammer mill. A giant magnet removes any leftover steel. All other fibers are then taken out with air classifiers. 

Once the tires are broken up, then the final 2 phases of the recycling process can begin. 

Screening the rubber

It is necessary to screen the wire because it will ensure that there is no wire or other contaminants left that can negatively affect the usage of the rubber. 

This stage also includes sorting the rubber into various sizes and other criteria the recycling plant may have. Each area has its own set of rules when it comes to screening materials that are being recycled. 

Cleaning the rubber 

Once the batch of rubber gets the stamp of approval, the old tires are now ready for a good wash. Water and chemicals are used to thoroughly cleanse the rubber so that it is prepared for packaging. 

Once the rubber is cleaned and dried, it is then packaged. The rubber is sold to places that use reclaimed rubber, powder, and granules for their manufacturing purposes. 

What are the byproducts of Tires?

Once your tires are recycled, there are different byproducts for which the rubber and other materials can be created.

For example:

  • The Fiber and Nylon (which make up 15% of your tires) can be extracted and turned into fiberglass, concrete, or even a carpet. 
  • Crumb rubber is used to cover the underneath of the playground equipment. 
  • Rubber powder is a low-cost material that replaces oil and rubber-based materials. 
  • 20% of your tire consists of steel. The steel can be cleaned and then gets melted and reused in almost any steel product.
  • Tire-Derived Aggregate can be used in civil engineering products such as road repairs, road insulations, and slope stabilizers. 

Did you know that Tire-Derived Aggregate, as well as Tire-Derived Fuel, make up 55% of the recycled tire byproduct in the United States of America?!

Where Can You Recycle Your Automotive Tires?

When you buy a new set, often the supplier will offer to recycle the tires for you. If you want to recycle them yourself, call up your local recycling plant and arrange for them to collect the automotive tires. 

In a landfill, automotive tires can sit there for a long time and take up valuable space. Tires are non-biodegradable, so they create environmental concerns such as water and air pollution when left out in the environment.

Disposing tires correctly will reduce the amount of waste at landfills and help conserve the environment for generations to come.

Once your tires have reached the end of their life, do not let them take up space in landfills where they can bring on disease-ridden rodents and become a fire hazard. Instead, you can opt for your tires to be recycled. 

Unique and creative ways people reuse tires 

Alternatively, creative people often use old tires for other purposes!

For example, some people turn the tires into chairs outside, paint the tires and turn them into pots for plants that can be stacked in an artistic way. People have also turned old tires into dog beds for animals in shelters or who live on the streets. 

The kids will love their new sandpit made from the old tires of dad’s car. You can use it for your dog’s water bowl or mini pool this summer if you have an old tire. 

Tires are very versatile when it comes to turning them into something unique and exciting. If you cannot get your tires to a recycling plant, donate your tires to those who turn old tires into a business that reuses and repurposes old tires. 

Conclusion 

Automotive tires can be recycled safely and turned into byproducts that are used in different industries for different reasons. Get information from the local recycling plant and find out how the tires are delivered to them and the recycling process. 

Your once-loved tires will be turned into something new and exciting like a gorgeous carpet, dog bed, plastic, amongst other things. Recycling will help reduce the waste at landfills and ensure that you are reducing your carbon footprint. 

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