Don’t Tread On Me: A Guide to Recycling Tires

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A good set of tires should be able to get drivers tens of thousands of miles on America’s roadways before they start to deteriorate. When tread starts to wear smooth and tires are losing their durability, it’s wise to purchase new tires before they blow out and leave a car stranded on the side of the road.

The problem with used tires is that they take up a lot of space and, once they’re off the car, they have little practical use to most consumers. Used tires can’t be re-sold, and the rubber materials themselves have little value. But tires are a serious threat to the environment if they’re disposed of as garbage, and they have plenty of viability as a recycled material. Savvy consumers will use tire coupons to purchase a new set, and will make sure the old ones get recycled to reduce the environmental impact.

It takes some extra effort, but recycling tires is an easy way can lend a hand to helping the environment. Here’s how the process works.

Dispensing of tires

A number of recycling centers accept used tires, so at the very least, consumers can call around and see which centers in their area will let them come and drop off old tires. But if tires have been changed at a shop, consumers should ask the shop itself if they take and dispose of tires on their own. Some may charge a small convenience fee to do this, but it’s worth the ease of not having to worry about how to dispose of the tires yourself.

One thing to remember: Always ask the shop if they plan to recycle the tires. Some dishonest businesses may burn or otherwise dispose of the tires, which is bad for the environment.

How the tires are recycled

Depending on the recycling center, tires may be recycled through a variety of methods. A common approach is to shred the tires and apply them to other purposes, but a tire-specific recycling center may choose to take the good tires and retread them, making them acceptable for resale. Some tires may be ground down into smaller parts to be re-used in industrial applications.

Tires: A rebirth

The rubber from tires can enjoy a second life in a variety of ways. In addition to being reused in new tires or in asphalt surface applications — the Rubber Manufacturers Association reports that about 50 percent of all scrap tires are used in factories and other industrial settings — the rubber from old tires is often used in roadway construction and retreading, and it is also used to make rubber mulch used in a variety of commercial products. Recycled tires are also turned into ground surfaces on playgrounds to help reduce injuries, as well as the tread on certain brands of shoes.

With so many viable uses for old tires, it doesn’t make sense to dispose of them in a landfill. Consumers should make efforts to provide these tires to recycling centers that will reuse the rubber in new ones, decreasing the consumption of rubber as a natural resource and avoiding unnecessary spending in the process. Used tires take up space in many landfills across the country, so there is evidence that plenty of work remains to be done in terms of raising awareness of the need for used tire recycling.

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