Tire news & information

Disposal & recycling of scrap tires

Last updated 11/03/2023 - Originally published 9/24/2020
Written by SimpleTire

Have you ever wondered what happens to tires after they've served their purpose on a vehicle? Few people give much thought to what happens to scrap tires after they're removed from an automobile and replaced with four new tires.

It's not hard to imagine that these tires end up in some interesting places. When it comes to scrap tires and tire recycling, there's an incredible number of ways that a tire can be used after they've rolled over thousands and thousands of miles of road and the tread is gone.

What Happens to Scrap Tires?

You may have seen old tires used in a variety of places but hardly gave them any thought. For example, nearly every go-cart track uses scrap tires around the track to serve as cushioning behind the guardrails or for other safety measures.

For every child who dreams of playing quarterback and those who already do, there are probably a few scrap tires in the backyard set up to develop pinpoint throwing accuracy. Baseball fans may even be aware that Lance Berkman credits his ability to switch hit with power to scrap tires. His father had him slug old tires with a baseball bat to develop strength. Yet, scrap tires used for such recreational purposes account for only a tiny fraction of the discarded tires out there that are thrown out on an annual basis.

If you've ever had the tires replaced on your vehicle, you may have noticed a little fee known as a tire disposal fee or a tire recycling fee. Depending on the tire shop and the auto technicians in the service department, scrap tires may be used in a variety of ways after they're removed from a vehicle.

In some instances, the rubber is purchased, recycled, and refined to be used again in other tires. Most commonly, the tires are stored for purchase by scrap tire dealers. Often, these tires end up in fields containing hundreds of old tires.

What are Scrap Tires Used for?

Similar to the use in go-cart racing, scrap tires are used on roadways all over the world as barriers. This is true within the world of auto racing as well as along freeways and rural roads. These barriers are more common in Europe and on other continents than they are in the United States.

Over the past several years, one particular use of scrap tire materials has become incredibly popular. The rubber in scrap tires is ground down into small pieces then used in athletic fields with newly developed turf.

If you've ever watched a game played on this turf, you have probably noticed the black granules that are kicked during a tackle or when a ball strikes the turf. This kind of field turf has replaced AstroTurf as the most popular artificial playing surface partially because of the rubber materials used. This recycled scrap tire rubber provides cushioning and gives synthetic turf a feel more similar to an actual grass field with more resilience.

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