Published Mar 4, 2016
You know recycling is important. You probably know to make sure your cans and bottles and paper make it into a recycling bin. But what about your old tires? Chances are the shop putting your new tires on disposes of your old ones. It’s certainly convenient—but are they disposing of them properly?
Recycling tires is critical for two big reasons:
- There are a huge number of tires leaving the road in the United States: almost 300 million every year.
- Unwanted tires that aren’t disposed of properly cause huge problems, from taking up massive amounts of space in landfills to polluting ecosystems to providing prime breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitos.
So how can you make sure your old tires are getting to the right place?
1. Ask When You Shop For Tires
A woman who works for the EPA bought new tires for her truck and discovered that her old ones were just going to be tossed in the dumpster behind the store. Knowing there were much better ways to dispose of them, she decided to take the tires with her instead.
She took them to her local recycling center, found out there was a designated area for tires, and made sure they got there. So instead of letting them end up with the rest of the trash, she knows they’ll be recycled, reducing waste and providing materials for new products.
When you get new tires for your vehicle, ask how the store will dispose of the tires. If they aren’t going to recycle them, you can take matters into your own hands.
You may even want to ask that question when you’re shopping for new tires. That way you can choose to support the businesses that are environmentally conscious in how they dispose of their scrap tires.
2. Find Your Nearest Facility
Many recycling centers will take tires. Call to find out what their policies are. Some states, counties, and even cities have specified drop-off areas where you can take a certain number of tires per year. There may even be businesses in your area that specialize in recycling tires.
Reusing tires can be tricky, because you want to make sure they do not pose any hazards, which they’re more likely to do outdoors. Getting them to a facility for recycling is the best option, but if it’s not possible, reusing can be better than dumping them in a landfill or worse, into a local ecosystem.
If you’re reusing tires outdoors is to make sure to put holes in the tires for water drainage and keep the holes from getting clogged, or you may get an unwanted boost in your neighborhood mosquito population.
You also need to be aware of possible fire hazards, since tires are very flammable, tire fires are hard to put out, and they put out toxic fumes.
But they can be good choices for DIY projects, including tree planters, garden steps, bike racks, even indoor furniture and pet beds.