Whether you are a car owner or the head of a corporation, deciding to recycle the used tires that fall into your hands is a responsible and eco-friendly decision. However, because tires contain several materials (including trace elements of heavy metals) it is important that they are disposed of properly. Here are some common kinds of disposal and their preparation requirements.
When a tire is retreaded, the tread (the grooves on the outside of the tire) is removed and replaced. This process retains about 90% of the tire’s original material and costs 20% of the price of manufacturing brand new tires. Retreaded tires are completely safe and are a great way to reduce the amount of energy and materials required for tire production.
If you are considering having your tires retreaded or donating scrap tires to a retreading company, do a visual inspection of the tires. For a tire to be successfully retreaded, the casing (the part of the tire under the tread) needs to be intact. Remove any debris and take the tire to a retreading company.
Some defects, like small punctures, can be repaired during the process, but extensive damage to the casing eliminates the possibility of successful retreading.
Tires that cannot be retreaded can be turned into other products—from asphalt to shoe soles. Some products are created by for stamping, punching, or cutting tires. Before these tires can be processed, the steel bead in the tread must be removed.
Other kinds of repurposing require different kinds of preparation, such as:
Tire shreds and the crumb rubber created from chipping are used to produce asphalt, tire-derived fuel, ground rubber, and many other industrial and agricultural products.
If you plan to become a tire recycler or add tire recycling to your business, you will need equipment to remove the steel bead from tires, shred them, and chip them.
But if you just have a set of scrap tires to donate, don’t worry about this kind of preparation. Ask your dealer, junk yard, or tire recycler about their requirement for tire donations and let them handle the rest of the prep work.
Landfill or Monofill Disposal
Recycled tires can be used for many things, but currently only about 80% of scrap tires are retreaded or repurposed each year. This means that some tires will inevitably end up in landfills or monofills (a landfill for a single type of waste, such as rubber). If you must dispose of scrap tires this way, there are still measures you should take. These include:
Contact your local recyclers with any questions about your area’s regulations and requirements for tire recycling. Disposing of tires correctly is as important as buying durable tires and conducting proper maintenance to prolong the life of your tires. Take these steps to prepare your scrap tires for proper recycling.
Information from the Environmental Protection Agency and Western Rubber Group.
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