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How to Dispose of Tires

How to Dispose of Tires

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Every year in the United States, there are over 260 million used tires replaced on cars, trucks, and buses by tire retailers. This many tires can create problems in a community. They take up room in our landfills, are often illegally dumped, and can be a hazard. Managing the disposal of tires is a priority for leaders in local communities. In most cases, you cannot simply toss old tires. From recycling to reusing to selling, there are creative and responsible ways to handle tire disposal.

Continue reading to learn how to dispose of tires.

Why Do Tires Require Special Disposal?

You cannot just toss your old tires into your residential trash collection. Most rental dumpster services have restrictions on disposing of tires in a rental roll off container. And many landfills will not accept tires from residents.

Why can’t you throw away your used tires? Old used tires are some of the most toxic items that can be thrown away and are considered an environmental hazard. They are not biodegradable and contain heavy metals and chemicals, including carcinogenic and mutagenic agents which can cause cancer and gene mutations. When tossed into a landfill, eventually they will leach these toxic substances into the ground and nearby groundwater.

Tires are bulky and don’t compact well. With their round shape and hollow interior, they end up taking up a lot of space in a dump. Tires can also act as a trap for the methane gas produced by a dump. This methane gas can damage landfill liners that are in place to protect groundwater. A community’s landfill space is a finite resource. Keeping tires out of the dump allows for the disposal of other waste and extends the life span of the dumping ground.

Properly Dispose Tires

Recycle Tires at Recycling Centers

Tires are one of the most recycled products in the United States. Almost 76% of waste tires are recycled, but this is down from a high rate of 96% in 2013, a peak in tire recycling efforts. In many communities, there are local recycling centers that will take tires. Auto shops also may accept tires. Often there is a fee to recycle tires, but some communities have grant programs or fund recycling efforts at no cost to residents. There may be a limit to the number of tires you can drop off. Usually, you’ll have to remove the tires from their rims before donating. When getting new tires, you can ask that your tires be recycled by a recycling center.

When a tire is recycled at recycling facilities or a tire recycling center, it can be repurposed into several useful products, including flooring tiles, playground turf, rubber mats, rubber mulch, shoe soles, walkway surfaces, and rubberized asphalt. There is even a tire-derived fuel (TDF) made from recycled tires that is consumed in pulp and paper mills, electric utilities, and cement manufacturing. This TDF burns hot to increase boiler efficiency, resulting in lower air emissions and cost. Taking your old tires to a local recycling center is a great option for tire recycling.

Reuse Your Old Tires

There are several ways to reuse your tire or tires. They can be repurposed into a circular planter, tire swing, outdoor furniture, stair tread, dog beds, rubber mulch, a small sandbox, home playground equipment, or even a garden table. Wash tires with a pressure washer before using for another purpose. If your repurposed tires will be out in the sun, you can reduce the heat they hold by spray painting them a light, reflective color. This is beneficial when the old tires will be used as garden planters or by children as playground equipment.

Sell Tires Still in Good Use

If your tires still have some life in them, you may be able to sell them. You can list your used tires on sites like Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, or Craigslist. There are even some sites that are designed exclusively to connect buyers and sellers of used tires. Sell My Tires lets you list your tires and rims online. Since tires are specific in size and condition, it can sometimes be challenging to match up with an interested buyer at the same time. Selling your tires online works best if you are patient and can wait for a buyer at the right time.

You may also have luck with a business that retreads and resells tires. If the casing or body of the tire is in usable condition, it can be fitted with new tread. Look for a retread business near you or ask at your local auto shop for a referral to a retreading outfit.

a t chart on what to do and not to do with old tires
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What Not to Do with Tires

Recycling, reusing, or selling your tires are the most responsible means of disposal for old tires. But there are some practices you should never do. These actions can cause environmental harm to the land, water, people, and animals and are disruptive and unsightly to the local community.

Don’t Throw Old Tires in the Trash

Most communities have restrictions in place to prevent the residential disposal of vehicle tires. You cannot just leave your tires curbside or in your recycling bin for pickup. Even most community bulk pickup programs will not accept scrap tires. According to the EPA, 38 states ban whole tires in landfills, and all but two states regulate the disposal of scrap tires in landfills. If you have a rental dumpster, check first to find out if tires are allowed in your roll off dumpster container before tossing them.

Don’t Litter or Illegally Dump Your Tires

Illegal tire dumping is a problem for many communities. They not only create an eyesore. They also can cause health and environmental issues.

“Tires cause health issues with the standing water in them from mosquitoes. So there’s all kinds of environmental and health issues that come with illegal dumping,” explains Karen Maynar, Public Education Supervisor with Metro Public Works in Louisville, Kentucky.

In addition, water pooled in old tires can draw rodents to the area. While the tires themselves don’t cause disease, those mosquitoes and rats can spread deadly disease to both animals and humans.

Don’t Burn Your Tires

Fires can sometimes occur in at a dump, and tires can feed that fire. Tire fires are very difficult to extinguish and often burn for days, weeks, or even years. Smoke and chemicals are released from burning tires, including benzene, lead, butadiene, and styrene. These are hazardous to humans and animals and contain chemicals that can cause cancer. Residential consumers should never burn tires to dispose of them.

Final Thoughts on Tire Disposal

Properly maintaining your tires is one of the best ways to reduce the need for disposal of tires. Keep the correct air pressure in your tires and rotate them every 5,000 miles. Get your wheels balanced regularly and check your alignment twice a year. Doing this will extend the life of your tire. When you need new tires, consider having them retreaded. A properly retreaded tire can last as long as a brand-new tire.

On the horizon is the promise of a greener tire that is less dependent on petroleum and other chemicals. How are these eco-friendly tires made? Natural rubber is combined with vegetable-based processing oils and fibers from plant cellulose. Silica filler, which is sand microparticles, reinforces the tires and reduces road friction. These tires are also constructed with stiffer sidewalls to reduce heat and extend the life of the tire.

Whatever you choose to do with your old tires—recycle, reuse, or sell them—your commitment to proper disposal will help ensure the safety and health of your community, the environment, and the people around you.

About Monica Mayhak

I am an expert content writer with a depth of experience in the waste management and dumpster industry, with over 25 years of experience writing about construction, home improvement, property management, and education topics. As lead research writer for Discount Dumpster, I have expanded my knowledge and understanding of waste management, construction, and environmental issues over the past several years.

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