How Are Tires Recycled? (Process, Upcycling + More)

When your old tires are no longer suitable for use on your car, you have to find ways to dispose of them off safely without causing harm to the environment.

One of the most common methods of disposal is recycling because tires are highly durable and non-biodegradable. But, how are exactly are tires recycled? Here’s all you need to know.

How Are Tires Recycled?

Tire recycling involves the conversion of waste tires into materials that we can use to create new products. Once the waste tires are collected, they are first shredded, then screened to separate the steel wires from rubber, cleaned, and packaged to be delivered to the individual processing plants. Some whole tires are repurposed to be used for crafts and gardening.

For more details about how tires are recycled, what percentage is recycled, and why it’s the best alternative or tire disposal, keep on reading.

What’s The Process Of Recycling Tires?

Globally, there are over 1.6 billion new tires and one billion end-of-life waste tires generated each year. However, the recycling industry processes only 100 million tires every year.

While these numbers are still pretty low, some companies are doing their part in ensuring that scrap tires don’t degrade the environment in landfills.

So, how are tires recycled? Let’s take a closer look.

Step 1: Collection of Waste Tires

Step 1: Collection of Waste Tires

Once you are done with your tires, some companies buy them from individual sellers or local tire shops and resell them to processing plants.

Additionally, individuals also collect scrap tires and send them to collection points for cash. These tires are moved to the collection points for recycling in bulk.

Step 2: Steel Wire Removal

Since the tire is made up of some steel parts, you’ll need to remove these metal materials, which can also be used to manufacture new wheels.

Additionally, the steel can also be recycled to produce other steel goods.

Step 3: Tire Shredding & Processing

When the tires get to the recycling centers, they get shredded into smaller pieces of about 2-inch length.

Keep in mind that tire processing can either be through mechanical or cryogenic systems.

Read More:  How Long Do Airless Tires Last? (All You Need To Know)

With mechanical, a special machine grinds tires into pieces at ambient temperature, and a special granulator regulates the size. On the other hand, the tires are frozen with liquid nitrogen and broken down into pieces using a hammer mill with cryogenic systems.

Using strong magnets, the steel parts are removed from the tire, and the fiber is separated from other materials using air classifiers.

Step 4: Rubber Screening

Once the processing has been done, the screening stage follows to ensure that no wire, steel, or other contaminants are left that could affect how the rubber will be used in the future.

During this process, the rubber is sorted according to size, and all the unwanted materials are removed.

Step 5: Cleaning

After the screening, the derived rubber needs to be thoroughly cleaned using water and cleaning substances, ready for packaging.

Step 6: Packaging

At the last recycling stage, the clean rubber is packaged and delivered to the respective factories that use them as raw materials. This rubber can be used to manufacture products such as rubber shoes and playground turfs.

What Are The Other Recycling Alternatives?

Apart from recycling facilities, recycling comes in different forms; therefore, there are other ways that tires can be repurposed instead of the landfill.

According to the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association, almost 76% of scrap tires were recycled in 2019, declining 81.4% in 2017 and 87.9% in 2015.

To play your part, you can reuse your old tires in other different ways. Here are some of the alternatives.

Exercise Tools

Exercise Tools

For many years, tires have been used as swings; therefore, you can paint and hang them on a tree for this purpose. These are perfect for playtime if you have kids.

Furthermore, gymnasts, athletes, and military personnel use tires for exercise; therefore, you can donate them to these groups instead of taking them to a landfill.


Tires can be modified into planters and placed around your home if you are into gardening. You can paint them and make several planters depending on the number of tires you have.

DIY Projects

If you are crafty, tires are an exciting item to use for DIY projects around your home instead of letting them stay idle in the garage.

Read More:  Spare Tire Vs. Donut (Differences + Which One Is Best)

Instead of the tire being a waste product, it can be redesigned into crafts, artwork, or sculptures, which you can also sell to make money.

Why Should You Recycle Tires?

If you are still not convinced why you should recycle your tires, here are some benefits that you should consider.

Creation of New Products

While you can recycle waster tires into products, you can also derive more efficient fuel from recycled tires than from coal.

Recycled tires can be used to make rubberized asphalt, flooring, playground turf, or more durable railroad ties.

As mentioned above, you can also make planters and playground equipment without incurring a lot of costs.

Prevents Diseases

Storing waste tires in your home can become a health hazard because they become a home for rodents, vectors, and mosquitoes.

Therefore, once you take the tires to a recycling plant, you’ll protect your home from diseases.

Prevents Fires and Pollution

Tire fires have become overwhelming and last weeks before they fully go out. It also becomes very unsafe during this period because tire smoke is very harmful and leads to respiratory infections when inhaled for extended periods.

Therefore, when you recycle tires, you reduce the risk of tire fires and pollution, which have adverse effects in the long term.

What Are The Reusable Products From Recycled Tires?

What Are The Reusable Products From Recycled Tires?

When you drop off your tires at the recycling plant, these are some reusable products derived from the recycling process.

Crumb Rubber

Crumb rubber can be used in paving projects and making rubber flooring materials, carpet padding, patio decks, sidewalks, and railroad crossing blocks.

Rubber Mulch

Rubber mulch is now commonly used as playground groundcover material because the rubber has more shock absorption than wood chips; therefore, it’s safer and more comfortable for children to play on.

Tire-Derived Fuel

Tire-derived fuel (TDF) is used to supplement traditional fires when the scarp tires have been shredded.

Since tires are made primarily out of rubber, fires fuelled by tires can get out of control; therefore, TDF pieces need to be used in a controlled environment.

Civil Engineering Applications

Read More:  How Common Are Flat Tires? (Numbers, Why & How To Avoid)

Civil engineering applications used up about 8% of U.S. scrap tire generation in 2017.

Professionals in this field are increasingly using tire material in their activities in place of polystyrene insulation blocks and drainage aggregate.

How Profitable Is Tire Recycling?

You might be probably wondering how you can make money from tire recycling. Fortunately, there are some ways in which you can earn cash.

On average, you can earn about $100 a day or $1-$40 per tire by starting a tire-collecting side business. Here’s how to do this.

Sell Your Tires

You can sell your tires to a recycling or retreading company and earn money depending on the company and the number of tires you sell. This way, you dispose of the tires safely and protect the environment.

Open a Tire Storage Center

If there are limited or no tire collection centers in your city, you can start one and start collecting tires to sell to recycling facilities.

However, before opening such a store, ensure that you confirm the state and federal laws governing tire storage and sale so that you can avoid getting into legal trouble.

Collect Tires

You can also collect tires from gas stations and small tire shops at a fee and then resell these to a recycling facility.

After you have collected enough tires, you can contact the companies and make some extra money.

Sell Tire Crafts

If you are creating crafty items from tires, you can sell the items both online and offline to earn some cash.

To find out more, you can also see our posts if car tires float in water, if you can sell used tires, and if tire smoke is toxic.


Scrap tires can be a menace to both the human population and the environment; this is why recycling is critical.

Since tires are non-degradable, they need to be disposed of in a better way rather than filling up landfills or burning them, which causes environmental pollution.

Recycling creates new products, prevents diseases and air pollution, and provides a source of income for people involved in the business.

Therefore, once your tires are completely worn out beyond use, consider recycling.

Leave a Comment