A lot is riding on your tires, but the rubber will wear out eventually. Replacing the tires is simple enough. Just go to a tire shop and buy new ones. However, disposing of your old ones can be a challenge. Ideally, you want to recycle the tires. The trick is finding the best way to do it.
Generally, there is no single best way to recycle your tires because it depends on the particular condition you find them in. Some popular tire recycling methods include retreading, reusing as landscaping or art, or simply sending to a recycling facility.
Some of these recycling methods will pay you for your old tires, providing an incentive to keep your tires out of landfills. By reading further, you will learn what their methods are, as well as common reuses for old tires.
Great Ways to Recycle Your Tires
Tires take up a lot of space. Nearly 300 million tires, about one per person, fill up landfills every year in the United States. They also attract rodents and mosquitos as they trap water, methane, and other flammable gasses inside their rubber. Recycling the tires is the only way to reduce the risk of fire and diseases ravaging nearby towns.
Instead of taking your tires to a landfill, you can recycle the tires for cash, use them as landscaping, or just donate them away. Your efforts would reduce your carbon footprint while making you a little richer. Your options are endless, depending on how creative you can make it. You can even make recycling tires your business, though you might need a license if you decide to go that route.
Even if you take a more mundane approach, you will find that you can “reduce, reuse, and recycle” your tires in ways you may not realize were possible. While most people simply take their tire to a processing or disposal site, there are many twists, turns, and unique possibilities in how your tires serve their next life.
We cannot list every possible way you can recycle tires as they would fill a book or two. Instead, we will present a few of the most popular ones below. We hope this list helps you decide how to handle your old tires.
Retread Old Tires to Make Them Like New
One of the best ways to recycle tires is to not recycle them in the first place. Most tires fail thanks to tread wear. In the past, this was a death sentence for tires, but recent developments allow you to retread the tires.
This process extends the life of the tires, saving you money in the long run. This is because retreading your old tires is usually cheaper than buying a new one. As most tire shops offer the service, you can have it done as soon as possible and save time as well.
You can retread any type of tire, though you can get more life out of semi-truck or heavy equipment tires. As such, you can save on your operating costs while boosting your bottom line if you operate and maintain a fleet of vehicles for your business.
Take the Tires to a Retread Facility
More popular for truck tires than passenger vehicles, retread facilities are fine places to drop off used tires for recycling. Your tires must be repairable and meet the guidelines established by the facility, but you can rest assured that your tires will be repaired and reused, provided you take your tires to a reputable facility.
Most places pay up to $40 for each accepted tire, although your actual payment will depend on the condition of the tires.
A few popular tire retreading centers that will buy used tires include:
You will find other retread ships, including a few local ones, by checking the Retread Tire Buyer’s Guide.
Drop Off the Tires at a Tire Recycling Center
It might seem obvious, but most local recycling facilities accept used tires. It does not matter if you only have a single tire or 100; your recycling center will take them all to begin the recycling process. If you look hard enough, you may even find a few dedicated tire recycling centers. These places specialize in turning old tires into usable products.
Most places will take tires of any condition, including those which are truly unusable. Some facilities will even pay you for the tires. However, you will want to contact your recycling center before stopping by with a whole load of used tires in your truck. Not every facility accepts public drop-offs, and some places may even restrict drop-offs to certain days or hours.
If you need help finding the nearest recycling facility, you can try searching online. Most environmentally friendly sites have curated listings of every facility in the country, but you can also use any search engine and search for “tire recycling centers near me.”
Sell the Old Tires on Auction Sites
If you cannot retread your tires, you can give them to someone who can. Many people buy used tires off Craigslist, eBay, Let Go, and other similar apps. Therefore, you can post your extra tires on these sites to make some money, typically $30 to $75 for a single tire. It may take a while before you get potential buyers, but this is the easiest way to recycle tires.
You may speed up the process by listing your tires on dedicated sites such as Sell My Tires. You may get more local buyers with the general sites, but these specialized sites are safer and more reliable as you know your potential buyers are looking for tires.
As it can take time before you get something, you should list your tires on multiple platforms. This will increase your odds for a sale. You may even be able to skip any listing service fees if you know the buyer personally.
Sell Your Tires to a Local Tire Retailer
It is not widely advertised, but you can drop off old tires at most local tire shops, especially those dealing with used tires. These stores may offer to buy your old tires when you stop by for new ones. The tires will need sufficient remaining tread life, but that should not be an issue in most cases.
Most shops will pay you for the tires either in cash or discounts for new tires. However, you will occasionally find a few that charge for tire disposal. Disposal fees can range between $5 and $20 depending on the size and quality of the tires. Either way, the shop will either retread the tires for reuse or send the tires to a proper recycling center.
There are also tire shops that do not offer disposal services to their customers. National chains tend to fall under this category, but you will see a few local ones as well. So, you want to make sure your chosen retailer offers the service before you pack your car and head over to them.
Drop Off the Tires at a Local Waste Tire Event
If your local recycling facility does not accept public drop-offs, you can still use them to recycle your tires. However, you must do it through your local municipality. Most cities host waste collection events around the year. Designed to reduce the impact of waste tires on the local environment, these events make tire recycling accessible to everyone.
While these events occur every year, there is no national set date for them. Fortunately, most recycling events happen annually at the same location. However, some places rotate them around the area. As such, you must check with your local landfill, recycling facility, or Department of Public Works to learn when and where they are.
Turn Old Tires into Landscaping
Old tires make excellent landscaping pieces that can turn your backyard into the garden of your dreams or a playground. There is no right or wrong way to reuse the tires around your house. Let your creativity fly and see what you can create. If you need help deciding what to do, you can use the following examples to get started.
Tire swings are a popular reuse plan for tires. They are also simple to make. You just screw three or more evenly spaced-out metal eye bolts into the top of the tire, fastening them with washers and bolts underneath. You can then loop metal chains or sturdy rope through the holes and tie them to a sturdy tree branch.
Flower or Garden Planters
You can also use any tire as a planter for your flowers, though most planters recommend painting the tires to make them look nicer. You just place the tire on the ground to let your plants grow through the middle. The spot should be based on the needs of your plants but can use tire planters anywhere. You can even fill the inside with additional dirt and potting soil.
Perfect for larger, heavy-duty tires, you can use your old tires to make a sandbox for your kids. You can use a similar method for turning tires into planters for your large tractor tires. You just need to fill them with sand. You can use this setup as is or place the tire on a base to keep the sand in place. Popular sandbox bases include plastic tarps and wood affixed to the bottom inner opening.
Turn Your Tires into Arts and Crafts
Finally, you can turn your tires into art projects. Let out your artistic side to create beautiful sculptures and handmade crafts. Your options are as limited as your imagination.
Some popular tire crafts include:
- Garden tables: Affixing several tires together can create a lovely table for your garden. You can paint the tires anything you want before topping them off with an appropriate wood, slate, or glass tabletop.
- Dog bed: Fill a thoroughly cleaned tire with pillows to make a cute bed for your dog
- Ottoman for your living room
Can Old Tires Be Recycled Into New Tires?
Old tires are never recycled into new ones. Tire manufacturing uses a vulcanizing process to turn rubber into tires. This chemical process imbues the rubber with sulfur and gives the tires their durability and strength, but it is also an irreversible process. While the rubber can be devulcanized to remove the sulfur, it weakens the rubber making it unsafe to use on vehicles.
However, all is not lost. Tire recycling is all about reuse, and every old tire can be used to make something else. It might not be a tire, but you are surrounded by recycled tires every day.
Reused as Tires
The recycling process splits the tires into their casings and treads. If the casing is still good, the tire gets retreaded and sent back as a “new” tire. This is more common for heavy truck tires, but every still decent tire can get retreaded and reused.
Paving Material and Turf
Tires that cannot be salvaged can still be reused, but not as tires. For instance, some tires get recycled into pavement and turf, and most recycling centers shred and grind these tires to make them easier to spread along the ground to fill a hole.
As a Sealant or Motor Fuel
If the recycling plant must break down the rubber completely, they may opt to use chemicals and heat on the shredded tire chunks. This process melts the rubber into a liquid that is useful as a sealant or as an alternative fuel. Additional chemicals might be used to modify the consistency of the liquid rubber if needed.
Waterproof Additives for Paints and Asphalts
Besides liquid rubber, tires also get recycled into waterproofing agents for paints and asphalt cement. Tires destined for this reuse must be frozen and shattered with liquid nitrogen to start the process. The resulting rubber has the consistency of fine powder. Combined with resins and other raw materials, this powder is remarkably good at resisting moisture and maintaining humidity levels.
Tire recycling attempts to reduce the tire waste that fills the world’s landfills every year. While there is no single best way to recycle your tires, there are many ways you can reuse the tires. Most of the time, you must take the tires to a reputable recycling facility, but you have options if you get a little creative.