Where Do Old Tires Go: Guide To Disposal And Recycling Practices

Where Do Old Tires Go: Guide To Disposal And Recycling Practices

Tires are crucial for maintaining vehicle safety, performance, and efficiency. However, every tire has a finite lifespan, and disposing of old tires is a significant environmental challenge worldwide.

As we move forward, it is essential to understand what happens to tires after they are serviced on our vehicles. Let’s explore this article, which covers the journey tires take from the road to recycling, highlighting both their lifecycle and the opportunities for responsible disposal and repurposing.

What is the Tire Lifecycle?

Tire Lifecycle

Understanding the lifecycle of a tire helps you grasp how these everyday items transition from essential vehicle components to sustainable materials. Let’s explore a tire’s life stages, from production to its final disposal or recycling.


A tire’s journey begins in manufacturing plants, where raw materials like rubber, steel, and chemicals are processed and molded into tires. This stage is crucial because the quality and durability of the tire are determined here. Each tire is designed to withstand thousands of miles of driving under a variety of road conditions.


Once tires are fitted onto vehicles, they enter the usage stage. This period is the most visible part of the tire’s life, involving daily interaction with different terrains and weather conditions. Regular maintenance, such as checking air pressure and tread depth, can extend a tire’s lifespan, maximizing safety and performance on the road.


Eventually, every tire reaches the end of its useful life on a vehicle. Whether due to wear or damage, disposal is inevitable. At this point, you might wonder where old tires go. In the U.S., state-run programs collect fees at the time of new tire purchases to fund tire recycling efforts. These fees help manage the process that prevents tires from ending up in landfills.



Recycling is a key stage in the tire lifecycle. About 76% of old tires are recycled in the U.S., transforming them into different products or forms of energy. Recycled tires can be repurposed into materials like crumb rubber for playgrounds, curb ramps, garden pots, athletic fields, or even new tires. Some are used in energy recovery, serving as a fuel alternative in various industrial processes.

Now, Where Do Old Tires Go?

Where exactly do old tires end up? Surprisingly, most of them get a second life. Each state in the U.S. operates its own tire recycling initiative, funded by fees of $0.50 to $2.00 charged per new tire sold.

Every year, American drivers dispose of approximately 280 million tires, equating to about one tire per person. Around 76% of these tires are recycled. According to the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association, the scrap tire management market hit a peak in 2019, with a 76.3% recycling rate.

Currently, there are nearly 1 billion scrap tires accumulated in stockpiles across the nation, marking a significant decrease of 94% since 1990.

From Vehicle to Disposal of Tires

After tires serve you mile after mile on the road, their journey doesn’t just end when they’re removed from your vehicle. The disposal and recycling of tires is a crucial phase, ensuring they do not harm the environment or waste valuable resources.

Disposal of Tires

Process of Disposal

Once a tire is no longer fit for the road, it enters the disposal phase. The first step is usually taking the tire to a garage or a recycling center. Many tire retailers offer take-back services where they collect old tires when new ones are purchased. These centers then sort the tires based on their condition and potential for reuse or recycling.

If a tire is not suitable for retreading or reuse, it goes to a recycling facility. Here, shredded tires are made into smaller pieces. These pieces can be further processed into crumb rubber or used as aggregate in various construction applications. Advanced technologies in recycling facilities also allow the extraction of steel and fiber from the tires, which are then recycled separately.

In some regions, tires are also used for energy recovery. They are burned in controlled environments to generate energy. This process, known as tire-derived fuel (TDF), utilizes the high energy content of the rubber, making it a valuable alternative to fossil fuels in cement kilns, paper mills, and power plants.

Environmental Effects of Improper Tire Disposal

Where Do Old Tires Go: Improper Tire Disposal

Disposing of tires improperly can lead to significant environmental problems. Tires that end up in landfills can leach toxic substances into the soil and water.

They are also highly flammable, posing severe fire risks that can release harmful pollutants into the air. Recycling reduces the strain on landfills and helps conserve natural resources by repurposing the tire materials for new uses.

This makes tire recycling a crucial step in protecting our environment and supporting sustainability efforts.

How Do We Recycle Old Tires?

Once tires are no longer fit for the road, they embark on a new journey through recycling. This process prevents environmental damage and turns an old tire into a valuable resource.


Recycling old tires typically begins with shredding. This stage breaks down tires into smaller, manageable pieces. Specialized machines strip away metal parts and shred the rubber. These rubber bits, sometimes as small as one inch across, are then cleaned and sorted for further processing.

Ideas For Repurposing Old Tires

Smooth Curb ramps

1. Curb Ramps

One innovative use for recycled tires is creating our Smooth Curb ramps. These ramps provide a smooth transition from the road to a driveway, helping to protect car undercarriages from scraping against the curb.

Using rubber’s durable, flexible rubber properties, Smooth Curb ramps made from recycled tires offer a resilient, weather-resistant solution. They are easy to install and can be designed to fit various curb sizes, making them a practical choice for many homeowners.

2. Playground Surfaces

Recycled tires are also transformed into soft, cushioned playground surfaces. The ground rubber provides a safer play area, reducing the risk of injuries from falls. Its shock-absorbent nature is perfect for areas where children run and play, and its durability ensures it can withstand harsh outdoor conditions.

3. Garden Mulch

Rubber mulch made from whole tires is another excellent repurposing idea. It’s long-lasting and provides superior weed control compared to organic mulches. Rubber mulch also retains moisture well, helping to keep the soil hydrated and reducing the need for frequent watering. Plus, it doesn’t attract insects, making it a hygienic option for your garden beds.

Final Thoughts

The lifecycle of a tire extends far beyond its service on your vehicle. From their production to the moment they are replaced, waste tires undergo a well-defined process that, when handled correctly, ultimately contributes to environmental sustainability.

One standout example of recycling’s potential is the creation of Smooth Curb ramps from recycled tires. These ramps provide a seamless transition from road to driveway, protecting vehicles and utilizing recycled rubber’s durable, flexible properties.

By supporting recycling efforts and properly disposing of used tires, we ensure they are repurposed into valuable, eco-friendly products like these ramps. Let’s remain mindful of our significant role in recycling tires and contributing to a greener planet.

Visit our website to explore the Smooth Curb driveway ramp more. We suggest checking out our blog posts, “Going Green with Smooth Curb Recycled Rubber Ramps” and “Drive with Ease: The Strength of Heavy-Duty Rubber Curb Ramp” for detailed insights.

We encourage you to familiarize yourself with these sustainable practices, which help reduce waste and contribute to environmental conservation.

We hope this information proves enlightening and inspires you to consider sustainable choices in your daily life. We’re eager to share more insights and look forward to your continued interest in our upcoming posts.