Your tires aren’t very exciting. They are just there, on your car, running down the road with you. Eventually, your tires will wear out and you’ll have to buy new tires. What happens to the old ones?

In the past, tires have been sent to landfills or tire graveyards. Many states charge a tire disposal fee to pay for their removal and disposal. Tires stacked in a field can turn into breeding grounds pests and vermin. Standing water in the bottom of tires encourages mosquitos. If they start on fire, they can burn for a very long time.

In 1990, when tire recycling was in it’s infancy, only 11% of retired tires (no pun intended) were utilized.  By 2005 that number increased to 87%. Why are they becoming so popular?

New Uses for old tires. Tires are shredded into a number of sizes, from big chunks to tiny particulates. These shreds enjoy a new life as mulch in playgrounds so there’s a soft landing at the bottom of the slide.  They might end up as rubber tiles that make cement floors more comfortable for weight lifters, kitchen staff, and grocery clerks.

Rubber particles can be used to amend soil.  Plants require less water when mulched with recycled tires.  They even come in a number of fun colors and can be purchased at your neighborhood big box retailer.

Tire shreds are cost effective. Old tires are usually free. Shredding them is fast and easy and the number of businesses that offer shredding services had increased. This makes tire shreds significantly more cost effective than traditional fillers such as gravel and sand.

A Good market exists for a large scale number of tire projects. Civil engineering projects require large amounts of tires. It’s a win/win situation. Old tires are disposed of and tax dollars are saved. What do shreds offer that traditional fillers don’t?

Tire shreds have properties that engineers need

  • Tire shreds are half the weight of gravel which makes it good for places with poor soil structure, which, in turn, reduces land slides.
  • They promote good drainage; 10 to 100 times greater than gravel.
  • They provide thermal insulation 8 times greater than gravel. This insulation decreases the expansion and retraction cycle which helps avoids cracks in bridges and roadways.
  • They have a good ability to transmit water. Water passes through without clogging and damming.
  • Rubber shreds provide long term durability for projects.
  • And they have a very high compressibility. Shreds will drastically reduce in volume when pressure is applied.

A typical civil engineering projects using 1 million recycled tires.The majority of recycled tires are used for filler material. But they can also be added to asphalt, which increases it’s strength and flexibility. Particulate rubber can be used to amend soil and smaller shred as a turf top dressing. Each state produces hundreds of thousands of tires each year.  Just a handful of projects across the country can prevent tires from ending up in landfills.

They won’t harm the environment.

  • Old tires used in highway projects don’t end up in tire graveyards.
  • Recycled tire material has little to no effect on groundwater
  • It doesn’t effect plant life.