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Most scrap tires are currently being recycled, though approximately 20 percent are still landfilled. 


Recycled tires can be used in a variety of industries including fuel, civil engineering, synthetic asphalt production, and agriculture.


Using tires as a fuel source is favorable because of its high heating value.  Tires can either be shredded or used whole, depending on the fueling method.  Tires are able to produce 25 percent more energy than coal and the same amount of energy as oil.  Scrap tires are presently used as fuel in cement kilns, pulp and paper mills, electric utilities, and industrial boilers.

Civil Engineering

Scrap tires can be shredded and used in a variety of road and public construction projects.  These tire shreds can be used as filler for embankments, road insulation, lines for landfills, and drain fields for sewage systems.  Tire shreds and whole scrap tires have also been used as surface cover for playgrounds, erosion control, racetrack crash barriers, and marina dock bumpers.

Asphalt Rubber

Tires that are crushed into small pieces or crumbs are referred to as ground or crumb rubber. Ground rubber is mostly used in asphalt rubber as a binding component, coat, sealant, or mixed aggregate. 

Several states that have led the way in implementing asphalt rubber use in highway construction have listed numerous benefits.  Compared to traditional highway construction, asphalt rubber provides a longer lasting surface, lower road noise, shorter breaking distances, and a reduction in road maintenance.

Asphalt rubber has also been used as material in running tracks, showing an increased track resiliency and decreased impact strain for runners. Asphalt rubber can be used as a soil additive in playing fields, improving draining, and creating better grass rooting.


Many local governments and states regulate if and how tires may be disposed.  Improper storage and dumping of tires may pose health risks, due to rodent and pest infestations within tire piles, and environmental risks, due to tire fires.

For waste managers who stockpile tires, consider the following safe practice guidelines:

1. Accumulated water at a site can potentially cause environmental damage.  Rainwater may accumulate in low ground spots holding stockpiled tires, making retrieval or moving difficult.  Trapped water within stockpiled tires may spill creating unstable soil and potentially toxic runoff.  Warm, stagnant water can also breed mosquitos, which can carry viruses and fevers. Monitor water accumulation within and around a storage site.

2. Prevent the infestation of other small pests, like snakes and rats, by installing screens on equipment to protect workers.

3. Heavy equipment and constant transporting can create dust plumes, which can disrupt employees, nearby properties, and other operations.  

4. Though infrequent, tire fires are difficult to extinguish and produce hazardous wastes like gas, heavy metals, and oils. Additionally, neighbors may need to be evacuated during lengthy extinguishing time. 

Fire smothering, using dirt or sand, is generally the most effective in extinguishing fires.  Water can be used to prevent other tires from igniting.

Have emergency plans and preventions in place in case of tire fires. Create and maintain access points and travel lanes among stockpiled tires.

Recap - Scrap Tire Recycling

1.      Scrap tires have many recycling uses. They can be turned into fuel, used for civil engineering, converted into rubber, or retreaded and reused. Some retreaded tires are exported to other growing countries for usage.

2.      Many states require tires to be shredded before disposal in landfills and many landfills are moving towards not allowing tires at all, making scrap tire recycling a more attractive option.

3.      Tire-derived fuel is one of the highest markets for scrap tires. While it technically isn’t recycling, it’s still a use for tires and keeps them out of landfills.

Consider selling scrap tires to tire-to-energy facilities or electric, cement, industrial, or paper industries for usage as fuel.

The fuel produces more energy than coal (about 25% more) and produces about the same amount as oil, making it a viable alternative.

4.      Civil and industrial engineering also has many uses for tires.

Shredded tires can be used as a replacement material for building embankments.

Instead of being disposed of in landfills, tires can be used in the construction of different sections of landfills.

Other uses for shredded tires include creating surface material in playgrounds or as a substitute for     gravel. Whole tires can be used as race track crash barriers or boat bumpers at marinas and other     docks.

5.      Tires can be ground into asphalt rubber, which is used in many states for highway construction. It’s been proven to help road surfaces last longer and reduce maintenance, it produces less noise, and breaking distances don’t have to be as long on it.

Ground rubber can also be used as running track material because the material produces less stress on runners and lasts longer. The ground cover under playground equipment can be made of ground  rubber from scrap tires because it absorbs the energy from falling children well.

6.      Retreading tires is a popular use for scrap tires. The outside tread of the tire is removed and a new tread is added in its place, essentially creating a new tire.

This process requires less material than creating a new tire from scratch and therefore costs less, passing on savings to both consumers and producers

The market for retreading is growing and is a good market to invest in because of its many related benefits.

7.      Because of the numerous regulations involved with the disposal of scrap tires, many states offer special programs to help with tire recycling. Look up your local government’s scrap tire programs to find out when and where the best places are to recycle tires.


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