by: Leslie Jones

“What do I do with these old tires?”  One of the most popular recycling questions ever asked.  Our best advice to you is to go to your local tire dealer to dispose of them properly.  Tire dealers usually take unwanted tires for around $1.50 - $2.00 per tire, then turn them over to authorized recyclers.  

“Rubber is difficult to recycle due to the procedure known as “vulcanization,” which it undergoes to attain its springy, flexible nature. Vulcanizationis a curing process that involves adding sulfur to rubber, which creates stronger bonds between the rubber polymers. Due to the vulcanization method, tires are difficult to melt for reuse and are therefore typically broken down by a mechanical process.

Initially, whole tires are shredded into strips using rugged machines. The shredded material is then placed in grinding machines that use rotors to further shred the material and remove the steel fibers from the tire. Some processors also use powerful magnetsto further draw metal from the rubber.

Once the bulk of the steel is removed, the strips are placed into granulators. Depending on the consistency desired by the end user of the shredded tires, the rubber can be milled into assorted sizes of granules that are useful in a number of industries.”*

“Tires are...often recycled for use on basketball courts and new shoe products. However, material recovered from waste tires, known as "crumb," is generally only a cheap "filler" material and is rarely used in high volumes.  Tires can also be recycled into other tires. Tires have also been cut up and used in garden beds as bark mulch to hold in the water and to prevent weeds from growing.”**  Use as playground “flooring” is growing in popularity, too.tire-recycling

“Why can’t I just throw them in my trash or the landfill?”  Another excellent (and often asked) question.  “Tires are not desired at landfills, due to their large volumes and 75% void space, which quickly consumes valuable space. Tires can trap methane gases, causing them to become buoyant, or bubble to the surface. This ‘bubbling’ effect can damage landfill liners that have been installed to help keep landfill contaminants from polluting local surface and groundwater.”**  Tires also produce a residual chemical byproduct that has the potential to contaminate groundwater.

Well, we can only use so many tire swings and tire sandboxes....and nobody needs tire flower planters, so please consider taking your old tires to your local tire dealer to recycle them into useful, innovative products.